Street Portrait Question?

Discussion in 'Street and Documentary' started by joel_gomez, Jul 24, 2009.

  1. I'm trying something new here (well for me at least). Anyway, I saved some cash and funding the entry point of this massive undertaking of doing this street portrait project mostly done in people's work place. For people that have done similar projects, what was the response of the majority. I get a lot of no's. Luckily I live in NYC and there are over 8million people to choose from, but what kind of approaches do people use? I just want some feedback to hopefully land more volunteers.
    I basically say I'm doing a documentary on american workforce etc etc. Does anyone think i should use a different approach?
    Thanks all,
  2. Tell them you are casting for roles in a new multi million budget Hollywood movie!
  3. I think honesty is always best. Sometimes one just needs to be persistant. Keep politely knocking on doors until you get a "yes".
  4. first of all showing some of your better work or even a professional (looking) portfolio is a great help, merely saying what you want to do isn't going to do it. Secondly look for the top dog wherever you go. Did a series in a mortuary years ago and I suspected the guys working there wouldn't like it a bit if I would shoot there (I was right) so I went directly to the hospitaldirector and he agreed given some expected restrictions. After having shot for some days there and the guys working there decided that I was to be trusted I could virtually do what I wanted and even got their help. Thirdly if you're in the States officaldom might be somewhat reluctant after the paranoia of 9/11. In most of Europa they seem to be a bit more easygoing.
    The single most important thing however is gaining peoples trust. It's where your own personality comes into play. Respect works both ways. Abide by any rules, although when you suspect you can't get out of it what you want don't even start and be honest about it.
    Lastly, before you even start asking do a lot of thorough research into your subject. It not only will provide you a sense of direction concerning your documentary but will impress the people on who's cooperation you have to rely. Delivering some good work will also get you a lot of credit.
    Still, a lot of no's will be part of the deal. Succes.
  5. Start smaller and develop a portfolio over time that you can then use to leverage into and snag larger projects.
  6. That's something I've always loved to do, but rarely get around to doing. The logistics of stopping down a business, lighting the place, etc. can be hard without cashing in a favor or something like that, although since you called what you want to do a street portrait , I'm guessing you want to get in and get out fast.
    Have you tried offering your potential subjects a print or file?
    By the way, it's all semantics, but when I think of portraits in people's workplace, I think of the term environmental portrait.
    Street portraits, to me, connote an impromptu portrait, taken in the street or another informal location, with a certain camera awareness. An environmental portrait might be more formal, and contain elements that indicate the subjects's type and place of work.
  7. Thanks all. Street/Environmental. I know most businesses will be reluctant to have me setup a shoot. So something more of spur of the moment type of thing. I rarely use flashes. I like more of natural light so there's nothing to setup. Just wanting to get peoples input on how they go about approaching people in the street/environment etc. Thanks again
  8. Dunno how accessible he is, but Lars Tunbjork might be someone to ask. He did a project fairly recently along these lines, which resulted in a very nice book called Office .
  9. it


    A simple business card does wonders too.
  10. Take a look at the video on street portraits on the Stobist site -
  11. I suggest you narrow down your idea. Instead of shooting every work place/business under the sun, start by shooting one industry. I would also suggest you start with friends first. I'm sure you have plenty of friends that work. It's a lot easier if you start with someone you know.
  12. People are like lemmings in a way. If you shoot one particular business on one particular block it's only a matter of time before your reputation exceeds you. Ton's got the right idea in that you should present yourself as a person with a past. Have to say, Damon's right... what you're after are not street portraits; that would actually be more of a challenge and possibly more interesting since you'd have people in the act of working rather than posing around forklifts and hot dog stands.
    If you actually decide to shoot "street portraits" (as defined here) then you don't need to approach anyone. So, just go and shoot, Joel.
  13. Draw up a mission statment and place it on Craigslist under Artists. If you have any work post a couple of images. Repost it every few days..It costs nothing and has a broad reach.Offer free photos of their company products etc.Good luck lets us know how it works out.

Share This Page