Headshots from the Street

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I decided to take a new direction from my ‘Street Portraits’ project. For ‘Street Portaits’, I used a telephoto lens, a long one, to achieve a large working distance from my subjects to the point of being invisible to them. This was how I managed to achieve such casual and un-selfconcious expressions. I love that project.
Headshots from the Street was, for me, a radical departure from regular street photography. Armed with only my little EOS-M and a 50mm 1.8 lens (using the EF to M adapter), I went to Greenwich Village and took the plunge to find interesting faces, go up to them, and ask if I could take their photo. Fully expecting a response in the negative from everybody, I was prepared for an afternoon of rejection and scorn.
Instead, I would guestimate 70 – 80% acceptance. These people not only let me shoot them, but they responded well to posing and direction too, just like I do in a regular paid portrait session. It was great.  My objective was to capture a real headshot, with expression and composition, from a perfect stranger.
My subjects were accepting, accommodating and best of all, enthusiastic! For the most part.

Of course, you don’t just go up to the person and say, “Can I take your picture?” You have to give them a story wrapped up in a little flattery.
My approach was simple. I would find ‘the face’, with a visual story to tell.  I would approach, warmly, with feeling and simple say, “Hi, I’m a photographer here in New York and I love to come down here to the Village and photograph great faces that I see. And you . . . (pause) have a great face. Can I take a photo of you?”
That’s it. People do like to be flattered. This approach is very disarming and a great ice-breaker.
When I’m done, I give them my business card and tell them to email me a selfie and I’ll reply with a nice high-res print file of the photo. They love that part and end up feeling like they’re getting something.

I’ll be doing more of this but please enjoy the first round.

Thanks for stopping by,

Bob Estremera