Be Polite, Be Subtle
Some of the most remarkable travel photos capture people in candid moments, which offer a glimpse into the daily life of the person or the larger culture. But take the advice of Photo Manager Meredith Gausch: “Nobody likes to feel like a subject.” So smile, laugh, joke, converse, or gesticulate while snapping your image. Even if you don’t speak the language, try to make your subject comfortable.
When shooting local people, the rule of thumb is to ask permission first, as many societies have cultural or religious taboos about capturing someone’s image. Award-winning photographer and OAT traveler Dr. Joseph Heyman has a different take on this: “If I see a wonderful moment, I like to seize it. If you approach someone first to get permission, what happens? They stop what they are doing and you lose the moment.”
Dr. Heyman suggests you take your picture first, then approach and ask permission. “I always walk right up to them and ask, ‘May I take your photo?’ as I show it to them in my viewfinder. Usually they are thrilled with the result and give their OK. If they do not, I delete the shot right there so they know I am respecting their wishes.”
In other words, shoot first, ask questions later—but always be respectful.
A potter in Jaipur begins a new clay project, while a curious observer looks on. Because neither the potter nor the child are looking at the camera, the photographer captured a natural glimpse of everyday life.