As a Street Photographer and in particular if you are in candid Street Photography, you have always to be wary of being discovered and the most common question you will here if you are taking someone´s photo unasked will be: „Why did you take my picture?“ This can be an angry or a curious and interested question, but can lead to some trouble if you answer in a snootily way like: „I am a famous Street Photographer!“
I want to provide you some smarter ways of answering this often heard question.
„I just love your look/hat/hair/clothes“
Everybody loves to hear compliments. don´t forget to smile while saying this! If you answer in such a way, the most people will be delighted and smile back at you. Giving people a good feeling is the best way to troubleshoot when being caught doing candid Street Photography.
„You remind me of a good friend. I want to show that picture to him/her.“
Sometimes similarity with people we know is the trigger to take a shot on the streets. Why don´t you tell the people what you were thinking of while taking their picture? And even if that is not the truth, they won´t see a creep taking pictures of strangers in you anymore.
„I am a photography student. Currently I am working on a street project“
People love to support learners. This answer sounds very professional and people may ask interested questions which sometimes can lead into a lively debate about photography and art.
„I am just testing my new camera“
Ok, this is a rather technical answer but that´s maybe the fastest way to stop curious bypassers asking further questions.
„I am not photographying you, but the building behind you“
If you are waiting on a spot for people walking by, always make a photo of the spot without people before, so you can show the bypassers asking a photo.
„Sorry for disturbing you. May I delete the photo?“
If you ask open out like that only a few people will tend to say that you should delete the photo. Be friendly and kind and most people won´t insist on deleting the photo.
„Sorry. I just wanted to have your normal expression and wanted to ask you if I can use the photo“
It is better to ask before the photo and in some countries it is also mandatory by law to do like that. But smiling while providing that answer and looking trustworthy can prevent you from trouble and can sometimes give you also an official permission to use the photo.
The most important thing: Always delete the photo if someone asks to – no photo in the world is worth a big hassle. Have the local laws in mind.
What do you think? How do you react if someone asks you why you did take their photo?