Taking pictures of strangers can be a daunting task. It is awkward to walk up to someone and start clicking. That being said, holding an over-sized DSLR camera is even more intimidating for a stranger. That is why I don't use a DSLR to snap most of my photos on the street. Another intimidating factor to strangers is your approach... are you loud, how are you dressed, are you with a group?
When I take pictures on the street, my most successful outfit are my comfortable camouflage pants and an old long-sleeve t-shirt. I don't stand out. I am often alone, which helps greatly, especially if I am walking into a homeless camp or into someones house to frame a few shots.
9 times out of 10, I ask lot's of questions. I will deliberately ask things that are somewhat invasive in order to get more complete answers. When you fail to ask deep questions, it raises more suspicion among some.
The questions I ask vary so greatly, but I will share them with you in just a bit. Please understand that I do not ask these things of everyone, I just like to get people to think about their life and where they are today. The expressions on their faces are so much more deep when they are thinking. I know, I am a weirdo, but I love to hear the story behind the person, although I rarely write about the responses I get in any sort of detail. Please do not email me your thoughts on how my questions are wrong, too intrusive, etc. These are my questions.
Some of the questions I may ask include:
1. How long have you lived on the streets or in this location - followed up with...
2. Do you want to move or are you seeking a change?
3. Tell me about your life - this could go anywhere!
4. Get deeper and deeper with questions like - Do you drink?
5. Do you feel that you drink too much?
6. Why do you drink so much (if they say yes)?
7. Did you grow up without a father?
8. Why - what happened?
and so on...