Photographer Thoughts: Photographing Strangers

I often want to take pictures of strangers.


There is so much diverse and varied beauty all around us all the time. Many times I'm out in the city, sitting in a coffee shop, or running errands and come across a fascinating human who happens to be a stranger. I am always torn on whether its “in bounds” for me to approach a stranger and ask if I can take a photo of them. Let me clarify, I am not merely afraid to approach strangers. I am a raging extrovert - I LOVE humans and I love to meeting new people and learning their stories. My own comfort level is not the issue - I want to respect the boundaries of the stranger - it is their comfort level I am uncertain of - especially as a straight, white, male living in a word where the #metoo movement has finally made public how much damage toxic masculinity causes women every day. Maybe someone would feel seen and flattered or maybe they would feel coerced and commodified. Since there is no way to know without the risk of making someone feel uncomfortable, I almost always just leave them alone and keep my experience of joy and gratitude for this beautiful world to myself.

Occasionally, when it seems like a non-invasive opportunity arises, I introduce myself, give them my card and offer to shoot with them in the future if they want to - this at least gives them a low-pressure way to decline - unless the reach out to me, they won’t be bothered anymore.

About this photo: Walking between locations while shooting a wedding on Saturday, “Honey” stepped right in front of us with her emerald hair and effusive joy.  My cameras were already out and set up, and the words just slipped out before I could think about it, “can I take your picture?” - She agreed and we made this photo. 

Thoughts and questions are always welcome!