Street photography can be an exciting and rewarding genre of photography. However, for many street photographers, the fear of confrontation can hold them back from pursuing their passion. The thought of being confronted by a stranger can be intimidating and leave us feeling embarrassed, potentially scaring us from going out and shooting again. But, what if we told you that not all confrontations have to end in tears? In fact, some of them can be a positive experience if handled correctly. In this blog post, we’ll be discussing how to prepare yourself for these situations and how to turn these interactions from something scary into something positive.
Establish Your Inner Intent
The first step in handling confrontation as a street photographer is to establish your inner intent. Knowing your intent when you're out taking photos means that any moment someone can ask you what you're doing, and you can answer them clearly. This can diffuse most situations as it shows that you are not doing anything malicious. You can explain what you're doing and why you're doing it in a polite manner. For example, if you're someone who likes to shoot candid street photography and you typically shoot people wearing interesting outfits, you could say something like "I'm a photographer, and I mainly photograph people wearing interesting outfits. I do this to paint a picture of our city as it is today. I noticed your hat, and in this light that we have here, I thought it made a lovely image. I hope that's okay." Presenting your reason politely will typically diffuse most situations.
Not Knowing Your Intent Can Have Negative Consequences
The alternative to not knowing your intent can be detrimental. When taking someone's photo, and they see you, they may confront you. If you don't know what your intent is, you might just say, "I'm a street photographer." And they might say, "I don't care what you are, don't take my photo." This situation is already difficult to diffuse. You've already clearly said, "I'm a street photographer," and they've already said, "don't take my photo." So you're already on opposite ground rather than trying to work with them. But if we focus our energy into knowing our intent, this situation might not need to occur in the first place.
Use Street Portraits as a Practice Process
Developing your confidence when interacting with the public and knowing your clear intent when you're explaining to them why you want to take their photo is a great way for you to feel more at ease when shooting candid. Knowing that if someone asks you what you're doing, you already know the drill. You already know what to say and how to get them on your side.
In conclusion, confrontation can be a daunting aspect of street photography, but it doesn't have to be. By establishing your inner intent and being confident in explaining it to others, you can diffuse most situations and turn them into positive interactions. Knowing your intent also helps you to avoid negative consequences that can result from not being clear about your purpose. Using street portraits as a practice process can also help you to develop your confidence when interacting with people in public. Ultimately, with practice and preparation, you can handle confrontation as a street photographer with ease and pursue your passion without fear.