8 Tips For Capturing Portraits Abroad

Whether you have a travel blog you want to show off to the world or you just want to send pictures of your adventures back home to your friends and family. Learn how to properly take pictures is important to capture the moment without ruining the atmosphere with these 8 tips for capturing portraits abroad.

Portrait, Jongkhar villageAmateurs and professional photographers alike still need to adhere to certain unspoken rules when taking portraits of people abroad.

So, how exactly can you get NatGeo worthy portraits with ease? Follow these 8 tips, and soon you’ll have photos that are sure to make even the most stubborn homebody ready to jump on a flight to travel the world.

1. Attend festivals when capturing portraits abroad

What’s great way to find tons of people in one place? Festivals! Not only are these great places to find lots of smiling faces, but the chances of people allowing you to take photos is greater because everyone is in such a great mood.

During Holi Festival in Taipei, all I had to do was lift my camera and ask, “Picture?” and people would smile and pose or simply nod their heads and allow me to capture their moment.

2. Always ask parents before photographing children

Something I’ve witnessed before that makes me a little uncomfortable is the sight of travelers photographing children without the permission of their parents. Please don’t assume that you just have the right to take a child’s picture.

If their parents are around, ask kindly (maybe while throwing in a compliment about how cute their kid is).

3. Be friendly and confident

People are going to feed off your vibes. If you walk up to someone and nervously ask if you can take a photo, chances are they’re going to feel nervous too and decline. Smile, overcome the language barrier as best you can and say hello in the native language, and try your best to explain that you’d like to take a picture.

4. Don’t let rejection stop you

Some people are going to say no. It’s just bound to happen. But, don’t let a little rejection get you down. The more you practice your approach and smile, the better you’re going to get at getting people to agree to a portrait. Stay positive, and be sure to thank people even if they decline your offer.

5. Practice often

Practice, practice, practice. I feel like offering this advice is like beating a dead horse with a stick (excuse the tired cliché), but nonetheless it must be said. If you’re new to taking pictures, the only way to improve is to get there as often as you can with your camera.

6. Ask people who are alone

When trying to find people to ask for a portrait, Brandon Stanton of Humans of New York gives aspiring new photographers the advice of asking people who are alone. In front of friends or family, a person might get too shy. When alone, people might accept your offer.

7. Be respectful of the culture

Make sure you know the rules about when and where is appropriate and inappropriate to bust out your lens. Some cultures might not want you to take photos of certain people or inside certain places. Make sure you don’t overstep your boundaries.

8. Choose a camera that isn’t too intimidating

Sometimes a giant clunky camera might be too scary to be in front of. A small Leica or a small mirrorless full-frame camera are good options and are especially good choices for travelers who are new to photography.

Calling all travelers! What tips would you give to a traveler new to taking photos abroad? How do you go about asking people for portraits? Share your answer with other travelers in a comment below!

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