Getting over your fear of photographing strangers!

Dear fellow photography grinders,

As mentioned earlier, if you’re looking to increase your earnings from stock photography, it’s a good idea to start including people in your frame. 

If you’re shooting editorial images, as I do, photographing people is fundamental. If you’re the shy type, like me, it’s all about pushing yourself out of your comfort zone.

People acting spontaneous are the best

In a public space, I don’t believe in the advice to ask someone for their opinion before taking a picture, which is also known as ‘Street portraiture’. When I have in the past, I later regretted since the image looked less than authentic. There’s even a psychological phenomenon that people act differently when they know they are being photographed, known as the ‘Hawthorne Effect’.

Looks too staged imo
Indigenous in a market at Otavalo, Ecuador
Genuine interactions are most powerful, such as this one in Otavalo, Ecuador
Milan fashion
Models in Milan, Italy

Not everybody likes getting their picture taken without their permission

Tough break. As long as you’re not breaking any laws (check in the country you’re shooting), it’s within your right to take their picture, but don’t be an asshole about it.

dubai women
I was extremely careful photographing strangers (especially women) in Dubai, UAE to avoid getting in trouble

Whenever people have got upset at me for taking their picture, I’m polite, apologise and walk away. Not my fault they’re so photogenic, like this dude below.

fruits in market4
This dates market seller in Jerusalem wasn’t happy about me taking a picture of their interaction

Often when I’m doing my post-production I see strangers’ uncomfortable expressions staring right back at me, like this dude in Parma.


As a last case resort, shoot from the hip and put your camera on ‘quiet mode’

If you’re feeling really uncomfortable try the above advice and thank me later. However, no guarantee that your image will be in focus, so make sure you try ‘zone focusing’.

Good luck with your shooting! Click below to purchase a copy of my book, the Brutally Honest Guide to Microstock Photography with more tips on shooting editorial street photography.

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Also available on kindle:

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