Portrait Photography on the Street: Connecting with Strangers

Zun Lee, Street Photographer, Author

Play Speed
  • 0.5x
  • 1x (Normal)
  • 1.25x
  • 1.5x
  • 2x
5 Videos (26m)
    • Trailer

      2:51
    • Telling Stories Through Street Portraits

      2:51
    • Approaching Strangers to Take Their Portraits

      10:37
    • Capturing the Most Compelling Portrait

      9:04
    • Explore Photo Classes on Skillshare

      0:36
73 students are watching this class

About This Class

Get out on the street and capture its energy. In this 20-minute class, photographer Zun Lee explores Harlem in New York City and shares his secrets for capturing the essence of a place and its people. His techniques for getting your best shot make this a perfect, quick class to inspire both the novice photographer and the expert to get out and shoot. Will you capture your own neighborhood? Or explore a new one? This class is certain to help you see a place with new eyesand a new lens!

______________

What You'll Learn

  • Introduction. Taking portraits of strangers on the street is a type of close up photography that requires a sharp eye, smooth talking, and the ability to quickly connect with your subject on a personal level. Follow photographer Zun Lee as he takes to the streets of Harlem looking for captivating faces for his series of street portraits. He breaks down his philosophy on how to get a stranger to cooperate with you and create a photograph that shows their true self, even when they try to hide it. It’s about making a connection, he says, and then memorializing that in a picture that’s worth a thousand words.
  • Telling Stories Through Street Portraits. Zun begins by telling viewers a bit about his own past and how that experience has informed his work in a series entitled “Father Figure.” This deeply personal approach allows him to talk to strangers in a way that disarms their initial skepticism regarding him and his camera. Knowing the story you want to tell will help you identify subjects who align with that story. Zun cautions against simply going out and randomly photographing strangers. His approach involves not only who he wants to photograph, but also where and even the time of day. Considering such details will invariably lead to genuine portraits that tell a unique story.
  • Approaching Strangers to Take Their Portraits. Not everyone is willing to let someone they don’t know take their picture. Zun shares his techniques for dealing with an apprehensive subject, and also what to do when the energy just isn’t right. Out on the street, he shows you how to “go where the people are” and how to separate the performers from the authentic person underneath. He’ll also go over the types of cameras he uses that further serve to remove barriers between him and the people he wants to photograph. Some people require guidance, while others are great just being themselves. In this lesson, you’ll learn how to identify both, and also how to gently persuade you subject into giving you what you need to take a great photograph.
  • Capturing the Most Compelling Portrait. Unlike graduation photography or headshot photography, which may seem similar in form, street portraiture is about getting past the facade in favor of the genuine. Some subjects may try to put on a show for the camera rather than reveal their real personality, but Zun shares his tips on how to get them to relax enough that they feel comfortable simply being themselves. He also goes into detail on the type of photo he doesn’t want to capture and why. According to Zun, it’s about getting the subject into their own energy, not their act. When that moment comes, you don’t want to be messing with your camera settings, and Zun has a few tips on how to be ready when the time comes, because it is so often fleeting, and once gone, it is gone forever.

360 of 367 students recommendSee All

The teacher is great - so raw and real. I really love his photography style as well.
Fantastic class! Exactly what I have been looking for!
I loved seeing Zun in action. He gave me a blueprint for how to approach people, something I find so intimidating. He showed me how much (or how little) you can get from a subject, and how to roll with it.
Anne Field

Writer, photographer, lover of art supplies

6,321

Students

18

Projects

Zun Lee

Street Photographer, Author

Zun Lee is a self-taught photographer, artist, and storyteller. He is passionate about capturing the everyday lives of people, and making connections between cultures and identities. Zun's recent project, Father Figure, along with many other docuementary and street photography projects Zun has worked on have been featured in the New York Times and Slate.

See full profile