Portrait Photography on the Street: Connecting with Strangers

Zun Lee, Artist, Author

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5 Lessons (26m)
    • 1. Trailer

      2:51
    • 2. Telling Stories Through Street Portraits

      2:51
    • 3. Approaching Strangers to Take Their Portraits

      10:37
    • 4. Capturing the Most Compelling Portrait

      9:04
    • 5. Explore Photo Classes on Skillshare

      0:36
69 students are watching this class

Project Description

A Street Portrait Challenge

Project Description

Follow Zun on the streets of Harlem as he captures beautiful portraits of strangers he meets in the neighborhood. You will capture as many photos and make as many connections as possible. You will make an edit of these photos, and select your favorite to share and explain why.

Tools & Materials

  • Camera (any type welcome!)
  • DSLR
  • Point-and-shoot

Want more help with photography? Check out Digital Photography: Become a Better Photographer.

Sample Project

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  1. Choose the neighborhood you want to capture

    No matter your location, you will find interesting subjects to photograph. The beauty of portraiture and street photography is that it allows you to see unique things in unexpected places.

    Start your project in the project gallery and share where you are going to shoot and why.

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  2. Explore your location

    Walk, sit, stand, explore. Street photography is about finding unexpected moments.

    Tips for prepping for your shoot:

    • If you don't spot a photo opportunity, stay in the same spot for longer and just stay and wait for the light to change or new people/objects to enter your field of view.
    • Look for a setting that you find interesting, and stand close by to wait for a subject to compliment.
    • A compact point and shoot (28mm lens) works well for scenes and captures where you don't want to disturb the energy.

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  3. Capture interesting photos by approaching interesting subjects

    Capture as many photos as possible, and edit later.

    Tips for shooting:

    • Sometimes people need help posing. It helps to give them a thought to react to or a feeling to exude if you want your photo posed.
    • Don't chimp. If you look at your LCD screen in between shots, you will lose the moment. Also, it looks unprofessional.
    • On warm days, people will be in the shadows.
    • During golden hour, shoot in the sun.
    • Tell people how you're going to work as you're shooting to establish trust. Things like "Alright, I'm gonna step closer to get a tighter shot" are helpful.
    • Pay attention to the rough in-between moments when you're shooting. 
    • Persistence is the best way to get a good shot.

    Tips for camera settings:

    • Aperture priority mode is a good default setting.
    • Don't fuss with your equipment. Keep 1-2 go-to settings handy, and focus on the subject and focus on the subject's personality and your lighting so that you can create a real, natural, and flattering portrait. 

    Share your 3 favorite photos from the shoot.

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  4. Select the best portrait you captured

    Usually your best portrait will be the one you captured during an in-between moment, when the subject was in their element. Look for this in the way the subject looks at the camera.

    Share your final street portrait in the project gallery.

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Additional Resources

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