Weekend Challenge – Photograph a Stranger

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It’s time for another weekend photography challenge – something that could take a few of us out of our comfort zone.

Photograph a Stranger

Image by fabbriciuse

Image by fabbriciuse

Lets start with a call to safety – if you’re worried about this challenge – I highly recommend doing it with a friend by your side.

This idea comes from a video that we’ve posted here on DPS once before (see it below) – where a photographer gets out on the street with his camera, sets up a white sheet of paper on a wall and starts randomly approaching strangers to take their photos. The results are an interesting collection of images.

Now you might not choose to set up a studio on a street corner like this photographer – you might choose to photograph a friend of a friend for example) – but make it your goal this weekend to photograph at least one stranger – you might be surprised by what you learn from the experience.

As always – once you’ve taken your shots and uploaded them to your favorite photosharing site – come back here to this post and share a link to it so we can all enjoy what you do.

If you tag your photos on Flickr, Twitter or other sites with Tagging tag them as #DPSSTRANGER to help others find them. Linking back to this page might also help others know what you’re doing so that they can share in the fun. (update – see the images with this tag on Flickr)

Remember that it doesn’t really matter if you do this challenge this weekend or not – the thing behind these challenges is simply to give you something to go and try for yourself, whether it’s on a Saturday, a Wednesday or a Friday.

Be safe and have fun!

Here’s the video mentioned above (there is a short sponsored message from Wired who produced the video before it starts).

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Darren Rowse is the editor and founder of Digital Photography School and SnapnDeals. He lives in Melbourne Australia and is also the editor of the ProBlogger Blog Tips. Follow him on Instagram, on Twitter at @digitalPS or on Google+.

Some Older Comments

  • chris September 26, 2009 05:20 pm

    Don't you need a model release of the person you photograph if you are going to post their image online ie. make public?

  • rismoon September 23, 2009 02:59 am

    Well, I am have been traveling for several months now and it I run into random faces more oftenly and have been taking many of them. Here are a few to share with you.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/rismoon/3939198705/in/photostream/

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/rismoon/3939970922/in/photostream/

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/rismoon/3939943040/in/photostream/

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/rismoon/3914929565/in/photostream/

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/rismoon/3915674444/in/photostream/

  • duncanlauri September 21, 2009 11:10 pm

    Took this one last weekend in Florence.

    http://picasaweb.google.com/duncanlauri/FloorRince#5380709897404626770

    a 'compound cliche' of Italian-ness...

    D

  • duncanlauri September 21, 2009 11:08 pm

    http://picasaweb.google.com/duncanlauri/FloorRince#5380709897404626770

    Took this one last weekend in Florence. Completely opportunist, but captured the ultimate compound cliche of Italian-ness...

  • Derek Ng September 21, 2009 02:24 pm

    Here are mine

    http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=3648631&l=65a5432ebf&id=811087925

  • Karis September 21, 2009 01:42 am

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/kriimsilm/3936927471/

  • Mario September 20, 2009 11:04 pm

    Here are mine.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/9314431@N02/

  • Gayle September 20, 2009 08:59 am

    What a great idea and challenge,, would never go up to a stranger to ask them if I could photograph them. But now I feel i could try after watching the video,, anyway will be going to the market so may pluck up enough courage to ask someone.
    Thanks for the wonderful info....

  • Geoff September 19, 2009 10:32 pm

    Being almost kid free this morning I decided to take advantage and go and get some sunrise photos from a local lookout. On the way home I thought I might take the scenic route just to take my time for once. Driving up the country roiad I saw an older chap just sitting in the doorway of his (much older) house waiting for the kettle to boil. I hit the brakes, reversed back the 50 or so metres and I am glad I did.

    I introduced myself, explaining that I just saw an incredible photo oportunity with him sitting there and he was more than willing and alos very helpful with information about the place.

    He was a wood chopper and now living in theis old house which is the oldest school building in the Cofs Harbour area. The school closed down about 40 years ago, but this year will be turning 100 years old.

    What a fantastic way to meet some interesting locals - offering to take photos of them and hearing their story at the same time.

    (It's a pity he had just recently painted the roof, would have looked better being rustic like the walls)

    Check out the pics with the links below:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/12768519@N06/3934095836/

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/12768519@N06/3934098176/

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/12768519@N06/3933316325/

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/12768519@N06/3934100500/

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/12768519@N06/3933318137/

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/12768519@N06/3934102236/

  • Debasis Ghosh September 19, 2009 01:03 am

    Here is the link to one of my shots on Flickr:

    http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2663/3844763167_1c24299018_m.jpg

    Thanks.

  • David J Mills September 18, 2009 02:54 pm

    A day at the beach brings out the joy in this young boy's heart.
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/evadsllim/3930895640/

  • Frank September 18, 2009 10:34 am

    AS I understand it, if the person is in a public place, then a release isn't needed.

  • rd September 18, 2009 09:24 am

    Be careful - taking a photo of a stranger, even if they agree to pose, and posting it - whether for gain or not - without a release can get you into some fairly serious trouble. remember - it's your responsibility to get the release and don't let them blow you off with, "it's ok, I don't care" unless you've got a reliable witness, not your girlfriend/boyfriend or interested party.

  • Eden Connell September 18, 2009 08:14 am

    Whoops forgot to put one last one in....

    I'm currently in Mexico and this guy I would presume is around 80 he walks around all day giving flowers he picks to tourists and they hopefully give him money

    - Mexican - http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3528/3906284082_a9bb8f00fb.jpg

  • Eden Connell September 18, 2009 08:08 am

    Hi Guys,

    All these pics were taken in NYC only the photos "What a Moustache" and "Toothy Grin" I asked for permission.

    ENJOY!

    - Old Man - http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3437/3829523976_9a2a7d3b8b.jpg
    - Eye Contact - http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3423/3828724993_83dfc92041.jpg
    - Not Human But Certaintly A Stranger - http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2201/3828726263_b78aefbed2.jpg
    - Staring Into Space - http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2508/3828726815_3d7fe66ed2.jpg
    - What a Moustache - http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3518/3836224687_cf120c9de0.jpg
    - Toothy Grin - http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2675/3841545222_fdd4f6947c.jpg
    - Left or Right - http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3445/3840755845_36200d3a25.jpg
    - Tiny Footsteps - http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2471/3841547542_a2da223a71.jpg

    Keep up the great work Darren!

  • Kathy Watson September 18, 2009 08:08 am

    This woman was painting in one of the gardens of Balboa Park, San Diego...I asked if I could take her picture...I'm just beginning to get up the nerve to ask people if can photograph them...she was quite agreeable...next time I intend to ask more about the person...

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/37008151@N03/3929374679/

  • cdc120 September 18, 2009 07:26 am

    This was tken in St Augustine Fl.
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/41347465@N02/3831270121/

  • karen September 18, 2009 06:44 am

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/karen-orr-photography/3844437411/in/set-72157621981728999/

    I was just at the beach and practising using my zoom lense. This couple were enjoying a nice stroll on the bach in the sun.

  • John September 18, 2009 05:44 am

    I sort of cheated, but did it already this summer on a trip to Greece/Turkey.

    I like this one in front of an Istanbul Spice Market:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/jxg1205/3929048627/

  • naenobe September 18, 2009 03:22 am

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/29654816@N08/3928715585/

    My lens hood slipped right before I hit the button and destroyed 2 of the corners. I couldn't crop it out because it would lose her face. Thus, the way overbearing vignette. I love the way the dog is looking at her with absolute adoration.

  • Joel Nickerson September 18, 2009 02:51 am

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/joelnickerson/3865063421/ Here's the link.....

  • Joel Nickerson September 18, 2009 02:50 am

    I was at the gas station filing up a 1965 limo that I drive and noticed this guy that sure looked the part.
    I explained that I was an amature photographer and asked if he would pose. He said "sure" and something about being a "model" and yadda, yadda, we have a picture that I think turned out pretty cool. I've shot many portraits like that with strangers, by connecting with them over something and then asking them if I can take a picture because "I need the practice" etc. Love the website, keep up the good work.

  • Peter September 17, 2009 11:56 pm

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/fernbrook/3929034824/

    Rather than just take a candid shot, I made the effort to go and talk to a complete stranger and find out something about him before asking if i could take his portrait. Going through this process is more difficult than I imagined, perhaps because I do not have much confidence im my photographic skills.

  • JC Gibson September 17, 2009 02:22 pm

    Still learning here. Additional photos from High Level (taken before Assignment) but nevertheless are photographs of strangers.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/stgraphics/sets/72157622392326826/

  • JC Gibson September 17, 2009 02:14 pm

    My photos are from last winter, so of course were completed before this assignment. While in High Level, I stopped many folks and asked to take their picture. Most folks were very happy to oblige.

    http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3504/3236575015_af92ebf376.jpg

  • Maria Seruya September 17, 2009 12:00 am

    Hi!

    I really enjoyed doing this assignment. It was a challenge because I heard like 40 negatives.

    Still, every photo taken was asked permission and I want to thank all the people that gave me that opportunity!

    These are the portraits that I chose from all that I took

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/mariaseruya/sets/72157622257547503/

  • mecks September 16, 2009 10:51 pm

    I choked at the last minute but met an awesome stranger

    http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2645/3918101135_1d520266d7.jpg

  • jeeverscatt September 16, 2009 09:54 pm

    here is my post. i saw these two when i was driving around on the island near to where i live. any comments would be greatly appreciated :)
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/jeeverscatt/3925962442/

  • Eduardo September 16, 2009 01:43 am

    Hi everyone. I'm from Mexico, for this assigment I went to the local market to take the picture. Hope you like it, please leave me a comment.

    Thanks
    Eduardo

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/fotobuceoymas/3910021207/

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/fotobuceoymas/3910021207/"Stranger picture

  • rgrabows September 15, 2009 11:52 pm

    Chickened out a bit and photographed from the back but thought this girl in the crowd was a pretty cool image.

  • anya brewley September 15, 2009 04:56 pm

    Here is another. I snuck up behind them, which may not be fair :)

  • anya brewley September 15, 2009 04:54 pm

    Took this shot at the park. He was so busy playing with his son he did not seem to notice :)

  • Eduardo September 15, 2009 10:55 am

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Hi everyone. I’m from Mexico, in this work I decided to go to a local market and take de picture. I’ll be glad to read some comments.

    You can see the picture at:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/fotobuceoymas/3910021207/

    Just made a little of editing by adding a vignette

    Greetings to everyone. Thks.

    Read more: https://digital-photography-school.com/great-reader-shots/comment-page-1#comment-65028#ixzz0R8V22PTi

  • Dave G September 15, 2009 03:35 am

    Here's one I took Friday afternoon. The lady was so nice I ended up talking to her and take 5 or 6 shots. I found that the earlier, more spontaneous ones came out much better though. Post any thoughts or critiques on my blog!

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/davidmario/3915526686/

  • Jake Kravitz September 15, 2009 01:34 am

    If you worry about someone you have photographed hunting you down and doing nasty things then use a little smoke and mirrors to camouflage the fact. This runner really was in a merithon but the back ground and a few physical features have been changed. To be honest, if I was this fellow I would not want my photo taken either.

    http://www.zooomr.com/photos/jake57/8157395/

  • Ed Hamlin September 14, 2009 08:34 pm

    Man I did'get this until an hour ago? I could have gone out and shot some great portraits. Oh well I will post a shot that I took this last thursday of a older woman play harmonica at the LA Artwalk on the 10th. Later got to get some sleep its 33am in CA, USA

  • Huu5189 September 14, 2009 08:00 pm

    Friend of my brand new friend :D.

    http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2604/3917278997_2787d9fbfb_o.jpg

  • Patty September 14, 2009 12:43 pm

    http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3513/3915038951_03a3f04161.jpg

  • David Peterson September 14, 2009 08:43 am

    Moderator: Please kill last two with my name on them. Still trying to figure out how to make this work.

    Here's my to shot for this weeks challenge. I took this at a Detroit Tigers game. I used a telephoto lens to keep some distance and not attract attention.

    http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_2bT1-tQ4e_s/Sq1rEXhjTlI/AAAAAAAAAhk/bDTstX7_AtA/s1600-h/se130279.jpg

  • Jake Kravitz September 14, 2009 03:12 am

    There have been so many hits on the original bikers photo that it really did deserve some tweaking and a bit more density

    http://www.zooomr.com/z/photos/zoom/8151048/size-16/

  • Krille September 14, 2009 02:44 am

    Do you need a modellrelease for all photos? Advice please!
    Krille

  • Patty September 14, 2009 12:09 am

    Camera: Nikon D40
    Exposure: 0.002 sec (1/500)
    Aperture: f/5.6
    Focal Length: 200 mm
    Focal Length: 201.6 mm
    ISO Speed: 640
    Exposure Bias: 0 EV
    Flash: Off, Did not fire

    Quahoger in Buttermilk Bay

  • MIke September 13, 2009 10:01 pm

    Nice guy from Kentucky fishing in New Jersey. http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2494/3915510982_987a065ff7.jpg

  • Carlos September 13, 2009 12:11 pm

    I took this photo on a Saturday night in Chicago. The head shaking was actually his idea, haha. I love the pic but I don't know why I have that light in the middle. Any ideas?? I'm new at this so I have no clue and any comments would help.

  • andy brannan September 13, 2009 09:49 am

    Hers mine i took last weekend at the NY powwow i got lots of great portraits.I love street photography .

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/andybrannan/3894223791/in/set-72157622276521556/

  • Frank Caltabiano September 13, 2009 05:54 am

    Here is my entry for the challenge. I think it fits the bill...

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/41506554@N05/3912652261/

  • Amy September 13, 2009 05:01 am

    Here's a shot I took the other day.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/a-lyn_photography/3913278602/

  • Ray September 13, 2009 04:46 am

    I've tried to do this several times and a big concern of mine is whether you need a model release to use any of the shots you take. I've been told that simply getting verbal permission from the person is enough but have also heard just the opposite. My other concern is with the setup. I would love to set a backdrop like in the tutorial but think that I may end up with fines (I'm in NYC and may have different laws) by needing a permit. Can anyone shed some light as to these concerns? I actually love photographing strangers but would prefer not having to resort to run-and-gun guerilla tactics(New Yorkers are tough) to get the shot.

  • Madeline September 13, 2009 04:41 am

    Love her young, confident look...
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/85792775@N00/3910927567/

  • Lorenzo Reffo September 13, 2009 04:40 am

    I won't hide this point is the one that most stops me when shooting portraits and it's great to see I'm not the only one having this kind of shyness.. :)

  • Kris September 12, 2009 11:25 pm

    here is mine~~~

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/krisliu77/3906151717/

    And this one is a couple, i don't know if it counts.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/krisliu77/3882529243/

  • Ron Cornelison September 12, 2009 10:14 pm

    I enjoy random street/event photography, the video takes that to another level I had never thought of.

    It might be a great way to make a person the known photographer in the area they live. Pop those photo's on a blog/Flicker (with permission of course) give a hand out to everyone you capture so they can see their photo.
    An inexpensive way to get your hometown brand out there so people you have photographed before, can locate you again when they need a good local photographer.
    Enjoyed everyone''s comments on this post very helpful.

    I visited Clays Blog, http://blog.clayenos.com/ it is well worth a look, gave me a new appreciation for the mighty Vespa!

  • Jake Kravitz September 12, 2009 04:57 pm

    Why not just ask for the photo from a stranger? You may be surprised at how many total strangers will gladly go out of their way to pose for you.

    I was taking pictures at this free Quarter house rodeo when I noticed these women bikers about to make their way to the grand stand.

    I simply asked for a photo shoot and these nice ladies went out of their way to pose for this and other photos.

    http://www.zooomr.com/photos/jake57/8141109/

  • Walter September 12, 2009 04:36 pm

    Great video there. Hits the spot!

  • Phil September 12, 2009 01:38 pm

    Random Girl in Sydney.... =)

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/42408759@N05/?saved=1

  • Donna September 12, 2009 08:52 am

    How fun! In our little town we have a lot of tourists coming along the ocean route on Hwy 101. I went down today to shoot some of the seastacks, fog drifting around the rocks....etc. But my real joy in photography is photographing people. When a couple of young girls walked by seemingly living the 'free-spirited life style" I thanked my good luck and started clicking. I placed my favorite on my blog......Snap-Smith.

  • Jed Delmiguez September 12, 2009 08:48 am

    Except for setting up a white sheet on a wall, I did exactly what CE did on the video by randomly asking people on the streets and if I can take a photograph of them. I'm currently getting good success rate of the technique shown on the video, well except for the two who said NO! :)

    Here's my latest one:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/jeditized/3910669078/

    Complete set so far:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/jeditized/sets/72157622215852573/

  • White Hot Phoenix September 12, 2009 07:35 am

    Here's mine!

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/whitehotphoenix/3910050069/

  • Peter September 12, 2009 06:54 am

    I would like to see more tutorials like ths one....on the field application...great post!

  • Matt September 12, 2009 05:32 am

    I did this as an assignment in college.
    It was very interesting at the time and I can only imagine how interesting it would be now!

  • TC September 12, 2009 05:03 am

    I did this one - can highly recommend it. Only stopped three people, but it was a very interesting experience (and they all said "yes"). I was a lone, with camera in one hand and flash in the other, strobist style...

  • Maïa September 12, 2009 04:37 am

    I will do it since I'm photographying a murder party this w-e so there'll be lots of strangers ^^

  • Sonriendo September 12, 2009 04:26 am

    Will definately do this, but it will probably be "robado" or poached as we say in English :-)

  • Sime September 12, 2009 03:11 am

    I will most certainly try and do this... I am a big chicken, but why not!

    It will be on http://gtvone.com by Sunday night!

    Sime

  • elwood September 12, 2009 01:53 am

    May I also mention that, having just read Tim Ferriss' "4 hour workweek", it's an excellent exercice of self-confident, would you be a photographer or not.

    You might want to try this exercice not only for the artistic result, but also because of the exercice of going over your fear of getting in touch with random strangers. This might be way helpful for improving your creativity by pushing the limits away !

  • Sergey September 12, 2009 01:45 am

    i liked this video. i think its great and available to every person no matter is he a begginer or a pro photographer.
    its great when someone can speak so simple language. thanx for video

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