Jun 232015

How to overcome  your fear of photographing people on your travels


A few days ago I wrote a post where I shared how I overcame my fear of clicking strangers on my travels and slowly started clicking people during my travels. This has really helped me as a travel photographer as I believe travel photography is incomplete without clicking people. Below is the article with a link to the original one that was published on The Alternative.

smile makes the difference

Picture clicked at Kumarakom Lake Resort in Kerala 

I travel when possible, and I love to click pictures of people who I see on the streets. The challenge that I have often faced is that I am terrified of clicking strangers on the street. Though I have overcome my fear to some extent, I am still one of those guys who cannot stick a camera in a stranger’s face and merrily click away. On every trip I make a slow start and make a fresh beginning every day, clicking one picture a time. Over the years I have followed some simple rules for clicking pictures of people.

1. Look for friends and not for models

girls selling flowers India

Picture Clicked at Gudimalakapur Flower Market Hyderabad


Most people don’t like to be clicked by strangers, so I just start a conversation with the people who I want to click, and during the conversation, I politely check with them if they would like to get a picture clicked. I give them my card that just gives my blog address and name. For some reason, the card gives me credibility and people do agree to be clicked. You know when you can ask for a picture when smiles are exchanged. Smiles are great icebreakers and you can never go wrong with them.


2. Use a small lens

Long telephoto lens

Pic via Flickr user Darron Birgenheier

Most people get intimidated with a big lens pointing towards them, so for my street pictures I normally just take a kit lens or a 50 mm lens, both are small enough to let me click without making people conscious. At times if I find the subject good I am even happy to click with my cell phone rather than miss an opportunity to click.

3. Click people you meet on travels


While visiting a Homestay in Wayanad, I noticed the beautiful decor of the bungalow the owners lived, they were kind enough to pose for me. Ever since I have been requesting my hosts to pose for me.

4. Click people who want to be clicked

Boy in Old Hyderabad

Best selling author Anamika Mishra was traveling with us & agreed to be clicked by me in Uttarakhand

Many a time while walking through bazaars I have been stopped by vendors and kids because they have wanted their photos to be taken. Never miss this opportunity and click them to your heart’s desire. I normally try to take an email and send them pictures, though a printout is much better if you can send that to them.

5. Click performers & artist

Aarti in Varanasi

On every street corner at tourist places people are performing, they are so used to getting clicked that they don’t even care if they are being clicked. Like I clicked this picture during Evening Aarti in Varanasi. There were literally hundreds of people clicking the priests performing the prayers. The trick in such situation is to find a good vantage point to get a clear shot. Also, try not to use flash as it disturbs the performers.

6. Plan your shots well in advance


Sometimes you just want a human in the frame either for action or for scale. So plan your shot, frame, pre-focus and wait. The moment somebody walks in the frame,  press the button. Like I did for this shot in front of a monument. I saw this guy on a scooter getting ready to leave I just waited for him to come in the frame and clicked, adding motion, scale, and color to the picture.

7. Shoot silhouettes

Couple in Sunset

Although not my favorite, sometimes it gives good results when the people in the frame add to the story. Like this couple enjoying a sunset that I clicked from behind as a silhouette against a setting sun.

These are just some of the things that I do to click pictures on my travels to overcome my shyness and fear of clicking people. It takes a lot of practice to overcome the fear but all it takes is some practice and soon you will discover your own style.


A slightly different version of the article was published on  The Alternative

The Alternative

Would love to hear your views in the comments about how you approach clicking strangers during your travels.


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  2 Responses to “A shy photographer’s guide to clicking people : My experience in people photography”

Comments (2)
  1. So nice post 🙂

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