Shooting Strangers

E-M5 and 75mm F1.8

For some unexplainable reasons people have the perception that I have the special ability to walk up to any stranger and get a close up portrait shot done. That is NOT true. The truth is, I do not have that super-power, and I do not attempt to shoot everyone, anyone, or anything on the street. 

There are possibly hundreds and hundreds of people I come across on the street, and I would shoot, or attempt to shoot about only 5% of the total number. In simpler terms, that means in every 20 people I encounter, I will make one close up portrait shot. Or even less. And out of the possible one dozen close up portrait shots I have taken in one shutter therapy session, I then narrow the selection down to 2 or 3 to be shown in my blog entry. 

I do not know how or what made people think I just randomly shoot anyone anywhere, that is so not me. I take my time to observe, and find my subjects. Normally, I only approach strangers, or people whom I feel drawn to. Perhaps it was the way they look at me, or that beautiful expression on their faces, or something in their eyes that compelled me to point my camera at them. Yes, I can be picky, and if I do not find anything interesting (ouch!) or worth shooting in that subject, I would move on to the next possible target! Choosing a strong subject content is one very important step in photography, any photography. 

There is just the thrill of going up to perfect stranger and make that brief connection, and have the connection recorded in the digital photography medium. The satisfaction came again when the photographs turn out right, just like the above photograph of a wet market worker. 


  1. Robin, one thing I always admire in your photos is their crisp sharpness. We know that Olympus lenses are sharp, that's why we use them but I shoot plenty of soft-focus photos, even with sharp lenses. I suspect the difference between sharp and soft is more in the technique and discipline of the hands and breath. Would you consider writing a column about your technique in releasing the shutter and bracing the camera or whatever methods work to produce the ultra sharp clarity that you achieve? We would be most grateful!

  2. Hi Robin,
    I think you're being very modest as usual. If there is one super power you have, I would say it is probably "smiling",
    which makes it easy for you to interact with your subject. (Please note that I am only semi-joking...)
    I've noticed in every single photograph (of yourself), you are smiling a big friendly smile, quite a bit.

    I think people tend to reflect the feeling, attitude or vibe they receive from others. If people notice that
    you are angry, sad or closed off, they tend to reflect the same attitude back (in my experience)...

    To put it in a cheesy way, the eyes are the windows to the soul. If you are smiling with your eyes or
    your mouth, you often get a reflection of it in the picture you're taking.

    Smile a genuine smile... Easier said than done!

  3. One word: Robinesque. A byword for superb.