Calgary street photography and sharing my experiences

The Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT)

Having been a street photographer for many years I’m often asked to share my experiences when out with other photographers. I have to admit that I’m often guilty of not sharing to much information, recently however I’ve been more forthcoming. The Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) based here in Calgary as an excellent record of producing talented Photojournalists. Walking the streets of Calgary as much as I do, I often bump into SAIT students downtown learning the ropes and putting their knowledge to good practice.

SAIT Photojournalist student Brandon chatting with Mustafa a stranger he'd just recently photographed.
SAIT Photojournalist student Brandon chatting with Mustafa a stranger he’d just recently met and photographed.

Photographing a stranger is something that is intimidating to a lot of photographers

I was recently approached by Brandon a 2nd year SAIT photojournalism student via Instagram who asked me if I would give him some tips on approaching and photographing strangers on the street. Brandon was a student I’d met while out shooting previously and I was more than happy to share my experiences with him once again. Photographing a stranger is something that is intimidating to a lot of photographers, and that’s completely understandable. After all we are injecting ourselves into another persons life, and they might or might not be willing to let us photograph them. We might get turned down or forced to be in an awkward situation. But, this struggle is something that is really fascinating because in a few short moments you can go from barely knowing someone, to creating an image with them that captures their true personality as well as being surprised at what a stranger will talk about.

This is a street portrait of David and is one of my photos from the day out with SAIT photojournalist student Brandon
This is a street portrait of David and is one of my photos from the day out with SAIT photojournalist student Brandon
Once you break the fear factor of approaching strangers and asking for their portraits it can become very addictive
Once you break the fear factor of approaching strangers and asking for their portraits it can become very addictive

I have to say that it was fun sharing insights, tips and techniques with Brandon who was soon asking every other person we came across if he could take their photo. I mentioned to him that once you break the fear factor of approaching strangers and asking for their portraits it can become very addictive.

Stranger portraits don’t always have to be posed, taking a portrait of a person in a more natural way can often tell its own story more effectively.

How to shoot stranger portraits – a few more tips

If you would like to learn more about shooting stranger portraits I have put together an article which you can find here