We rarely get to see extraordinary people in our everyday lives. Have you had one of those moments when you saw a stranger that you really wanted to take a picture of? I am sure you have. So what did you do? Did you just photograph the person from afar without them knowing, try to talk that person into being your 30 second model or perhaps you might have tried to sneak up and take a picture? Or even worse, maybe you did not take a picture at all? I guess it has to do with our personality. If you are of shy type with a low confidence level (often a photography rookie), you might be even afraid to ask. That dreaded “No” can be quite discouraging to say the least and many of us don’t even bother to ask for that very reason.
I once asked a big tattooed guy to take his picture, because he had a very colorful outfit that looked very interesting with his tattoos. With plenty of anger on his face, his response was that he would break my camera if I even tried. Oh well, not everyone is approachable for sure! It certainly sounded very discouraging, but did it make me give up on asking? Of course not. I have asked many people since then. And I have photographed many of them, some of which later became my clients.
While doing a short photo walk with the Canon 5D Mark III in Disney Downtown, I came across an Italian guy, who danced away to tunes played by local artists. His dancing was not very good (meaning, he is not a professional dancer or anything), but the way he was dressed and he moved attracted a lot of people:
He had a lot of joy and he did it non-stop for a while, hopping between multiple performers:
When the music finally ended, I approached him and asked: “Sir, you are a phenomenal dancer. I am a professional photographer and I would love to take your photograph with my camera. Would you mind doing a couple of poses for me while I fire away? I will send you those photos via email”. He listened to me and then answered “Yes, sure!”, without hesitation.
It was a very crowded area of Disney (when is it not crowded?), so I spotted a corner near me and asked him to come with me. My first request was “could you strike a cool pose for me?”. I love asking people to do this, because most have no idea what to do. But those who like having fun do strike a really fun pose. But not him. He just stood there and stared at me, wondering what he should be doing. So without further delay, I spread my legs, crossed my hands and said “how about like this?”. This is what I got:
I knew that I would not have him for more than a minute, so without correcting his pose, I decided to change the pose to something different. After doing a few quick snaps, I got close and started capturing some of the amazing details he had on his clothing:
Why did I think he was Italian? Check out his cool Ferrari hat:
And yellow shoes to match the colors:
I also asked him where he was from and he proudly said “Italia! Can’t you tell from my clothes?”
Don’t be afraid to ask. There are so many different opportunities around you every day. Don’t miss them all out just because you do not feel comfortable doing it! There will be lots of “No”s in your life, but the “Yes”es can be quite rewarding.