📍Providence, Rhode Island
Have you ever been out at the mall or walking down the street and you see someone with an awesome look, and you really want to take their photo? If you’re a photographer, you have most likely been in this situation. If you’re not a photographer, that is a little suspect, but this blog post is not about that. You chicken out because you don’t want to look like a creeper. I’ve been there. I’ve been in the mall and seen Lil Naomi Campbells and Karlie Klosses walk past me, and I say nothing. But after watching them sashay away too many times, I started talking to them. One day a few years ago I was shopping at H&M, and a girl who was practically a foot taller than me walked by. I gathered up my nerves and introduced myself. She was confused at first but I told her she had a great look and I would love to take her photos. I didn’t have any business cards on me, but I showed her my Instagram. She immediately seemed interested, and I gave her my contact info. We ended up doing a photoshoot a few days later.
Here are my tips to not sound like a creep (hopefully)
Warm up talking to strangers
The best way to get used to asking strangers to pose for you is at street festivals. I got way more confident at this by approaching people at PVDFest and Rhode Island Pride. I would walk around with my camera, and if someone had a fresh look, I would ask to take their photo. Nine times out of ten they would say yes. You could also get your extrovert friend to walk around with you and have them ask. I remember one PVDFest I made my friend Olivia ask people at first until I got up the nerve to do it myself (which is funny in itself because I’m an extrovert and Olivia is an introvert). Soon enough you’ll be confident to approach anyone to ask to take their photo.
Acknowledge the creep factor first
I will admit as a woman; my approaching someone will initially come off less creepy than a 50-year-old man approaching a 20-year-old girl. Even with that, it will throw someone off that a stranger just started talking to them asking if they ever modeled before. The guy in the photo at the beginning of the blog post is Tyler. He was working at a restaurant my boyfriend and I were at a few weeks ago. I saw him and thought he would be good for a test shoot since I haven’t done one in a long time. I waited for the right opportunity and waved him over. I acknowledged that this sounds wicked weird but I’m a photographer and wondered if he had ever modeled before. I gave him a business card and told him to check out my website and if he was interested in doing a test shoot to email me. I never ask for their contact info. It was entirely on him if he wanted to contact me. I kept it short to respect his time and not make the whole thing about me.
Simplify the process
Tyler emailed me the next day to schedule a test shoot. Most likely the person you asked is not a model, so you have to give them direction on how to style themselves and photo inspiration. I sent Tyler photos on the clothing style I thought would suit the session. I also showed him pictures on my phone right before shooting on how I wanted him to pose. I gave him lots of direction and encouragement throughout our test shoot. The most important part of the session was that it was QUICK. We finished in 15 minutes. That was on purpose because again, he has never modeled before, so I wanted to make it as easy as possible on him. If you love how the photos turned out, you can always ask to work together again.
Do you have any tips on how to approach strangers? Have you ever been in this situation? Let me know in the comments.