Portraits while travelling

In recent travels I've been making an effort to take portraits of the people I meet.

At first I set a goal of 50 different people per trip however, this seemed to cheapen the individual interactions as I'd have to bounce from person to person during any available time. I'm now just making the most of any opportunity and making a habit of at least having my 50mm lens with me everywhere I go.

I love the environmental portrait work of the greats like Arnold Newman, Steve McCurry, Henri Cartier-Bresson and so many others. I more often however gravitate to the wonderful diverse faces on this planet and don't provide much background. I'm trying to take both however I get so excited when opportunities present themselves I just get in close and shoot faces.

The 50mm means that I get in quite close to fill the frame which normally creates interesting responses.

I mainly shoot with available light however have bought a silk diffuser and flash remote so I can experiment with more dramatic artificial lighting too. The work I've seen of Phil Borges uses these techniques and is simply stunning! He also did a TED address and seems to work for great causes.

Taking portraits also means I'm having more in depth interactions with locals during my travels which add more dimension to places visited and insight. It is amazing how often people then want their photos taken.

I always make an effort of trying to get either hardcopies printed in a kios or jpegs back to the subjects. However if neither are possible the display on the back provides good entertainment.

I always try and get an understanding of cultural specifics surrounding photographing people and always ask directly or through a guide or translator if available.

It is quite an addictive habit while travelling and a welcome distraction from the intensity of long hours working!!

Most photos of for my own memories and stories however here are a few from recent trips:

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May 08, 2013


Nice work! So interesting to see the different styles of clothes, hair, background environment, cultural elements... Really enjoyed checking out the people in your portfolio.

May 08, 2013


Yep, definitely look up Humans of New York website, it's great :) It also has some side stories as well.

It's always nice to be able to give back to those people that let you photograph them. :) Keep up the great work!

May 08, 2013


what a wonderful hobby and a great way to meet interesting people~!

May 08, 2013


I really like your portraits, really tells stories!

May 08, 2013


I've thought of doing that a few times but like others here, didn't have the courage. I assume you're getting model releases of these folks. How does that work for you? Got any tips on getting them to sign the releases?

May 08, 2013


Great! I find always very difficult to approach people and ask them to be photographed...do you have any tips about that?
Anyway, beautiful pictures!!!

May 08, 2013


Hi Dark3y3s - I'll have to look Brandon up tomorrow.

The guy in India was quite funny. Some kids wanted me to take their pictures so I did but they thought I should also take their uncle. He started very unsure then ended up laughing as I asked just 1 more for another 10 or so shot
I was able to print them and return the following day and then did more.

Many people are suspicious when you first ask but very often they come around after a chat - have hundreds now, just need to remember to write down all the side stories.

All the best

May 08, 2013


This is a lovely habit! I'd love to do the same but I didn't yet have the courage to ask a stranger to pose for me :)

Do you know Brandon from Humans of New York? I love his work as well..

P.S. Great capture of the indian with moustache :)

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Photo credits: Bevanward.