I woke up one morning in the middle of March 2014 and thought to myself: this is exactly what I’m going to do. Probably my subconscious had been at work since the year before when I read an article about an American photographer who had walked the streets of his hometown doing street portraits of complete strangers. The article really fascinated me and the photos were done well.
So that March morning, I woke up convinced that the same kind of project would be perfect for me. It would be a mix of anthropology, psychology and photography. But it was also a personal challenge, since I have always found photographing people quite difficult.
The figure that first came to mind was “50”. The project had to contain 50 portraits of 50 different people whom I had never met before. All approached on the streets of Rome and photographed exactly where I had met them. I wanted to portray people from all social classes and possibly with different skin colors. I wanted to mix photographic styles, colors, black-and-white, different expressions and poses. And also different kinds and levels of post-production which would be determined by the light, the colors and the character of each individual that I had photographed.
All the displayed portraits in this gallery have been taken in this spirit during the period from March to May 2014.
Golden rules and hints regarding street portraits
- The three most important points are politeness, politeness and politeness.
- Quite a few people will say no, so be prepared to accept rejections with a smile.
- Believe in your project. If you’re not convinced, it will shine through.
- Have your camera around your neck and not in your bag. The camera will make it clear to the subject that you are actually a photographer (as you claim to be).
- When you see a good subject, don’t think about his/her reaction to your request. Stop thinking, just ask!
- Have your opening sentence (which should be short and to the point) and your camera’s settings ready.
- Give your business card to the subject and propose to him/her to send you an email, if they would like a copy of the photo.
- Act natural, compliment your subject (if you feel like it) and maintain eye contact in a natural way with the person being photographed.
- Tell the subject what to do, how to sit, where to stand in a gentle yet determined way. Your self-assurance will let the subject know that you have done this before. It will help him/her to relax.
- Look for a subject that is already in the shade to avoid shadows on the subject’s face. Besides, you should not move your subject around too much.
- Look for the ideal situations: parks, bus stops, metro stations, stairs in front of churches where people are usually waiting or relaxing.