3 min read

Random Stranger Photography – It’s Scary

My stranger portrait experience with Sony Malaysia.
Random Stranger Photography – It’s Scary
Men, Birds and Batu Caves. Sony a6400, Sony FE 35mm, 1/640 at f/1.8, ISO 100

Last weekend I went to another Sony Photography Workshop. The session was about taking portrait photos of strangers at the Batu Caves. Joon Hao led us as the instructor. He a professional photographer and also a Sony Alpha Guru (a fancy name for Sony's photography trainers). Shout out to him!

I will be posting a full gallery of the session soon. Join my website to keep updated.
In the meantime, check my other galleries here.

The workshop was scheduled to start at at 8:00 am. It rained that morning. Quite heavily at first and drizzly after 8:00 am. And I was late. Though it had nothing to do with the rain. lol

I had half the heart to skip the session, tbh. I mean, we're supposed to take photos of strangers. Do you know how scary that is to an introverts? What if they get mad when we point the lenses towards them? What if they confront and shout at us to delete the photos? It's chilling to think about it. 🥶

Before the workshop, Joon Hao said that most people there will be nice enough to let us take their photos if we ask them kindly.

When the session started, 2 Vietnamese ladies in their traditional outfits quickly caught his eye and he swiftly asked if we can take photos of them. First, he was the only one taking their photos, then all of a sudden, everyone flocked and took their photos too. It turned into a photo shoot for the two ladies. lol. But they were more than happy to be photographed. This was mind-0pening.

Few things I learnt here:

  1. Don't be afraid to ask to take a photo, nicely. The worst could happen is they declined. That's okay, we move on to the next subject.
  2. Best to connect and share the photos taken with them. It's a good gesture of give-and-take. Joon shared the photos with them via Instagram story later after the session.

I was still worried and didn't participate to take the photos of the ladies. So here's some photos of me taking it from afar.

Ao Dai in Batu Caves. Sony a6400, Sony FE 35mm, 1/640 at f/1.8, ISO 100

There are a few things I discovered during the workshop while I was there:

1. Give and take

This is the most natural way I found, to take a photo of random passersby. I noticed a lady was taking a selfie and saw that as an opportunity. I offered to help take a photo with her own phone. Once done, I asked if I can take a photo of her with my camera. And she agreed.

The whole situation was very smooth and I'll definitely use this trick again in the future.

Helping each other. Sony a6400, Sony FE 35mm, 1/60 at f/9.0, ISO 640
Can I help you take your photo?

2. Some just like to be photographed

This was a big shocker to me. As an introvert, I usually wouldn't want to be the point of interest to any random person. Especially when I'm just minding my own business.

What I learnt is there are people out there who would freely pose in front of my camera, by giving a thumbs up or peace sign or anything similar.

The best one yet is when I was focusing on a person at the bottom climbing a staircase, and suddenly I heard someone cheerfully say, "So are you gonna take a photo of me?". It came from a lady that was standing right beside me. To which I said, "Oh, sure!", in slight bafflement.

Are you gonna take a photo of me? Sony a6400, Sony FE 35mm, 1/400 at f/1.8, ISO 100
"Are you gonna take a photo of me?"
"Oh.. Sure,"

All in all

I'm glad I stayed through to enjoy the workshop experience. I really learnt a lot about human behaviour. I came out braver, in terms of taking stranger's photos and am looking forward to another street/stranger portrait photography in the future.

Was is scary? Well, only at first.

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Put out.