In my experience, the strongest portraits and the ones that end up being my favourites, come from people who are comfortable with you taking their photo.
. . .
…Yes, I know how obvious that sounds, but here’s the thing: I’ve come across many-a-tourist whipping out their DSLR cameras in somebody’s face, firing, and walking off. I’m guessing you may have seen it as well. I’ve seen tourists interfering in people’s ceremonies in order to get selfies of themselves. C’mon.
Don’t steal your portraits.
Besides the obvious infringement on people’s personal space, disrespect, and poor reputation it provides the rest of us travelers – I can’t see how on earth you’d end up with a result ever worth looking at?
This portrait of this street vender started with a simple thought as I walked by: ‘that’s funny – the colour of this man’s eyes are identical to the doors behind him’. That was enough, for me, to think it would be a cool portrait to take. I’m not suggesting you need everyone who you photograph’s full life-story, but don’t just swoop in and run away.
Before I took out my camera I bought some fruit from him, managed to communicate in the universal traveler’s language (fake signing + broken english), he gave me some vegetables from his own garden, and only after that exchange did I ask him for his portrait. Consider even showing the person some of your other work, I’ve found this a good way of earning trust and showing that you care about the picture you’re about to take of them. I like to share the photo with the person afterwards and if it gets a smile and a nod, all the better.
And maybe if you pass him by in Jodhpur, he might be inclined to give you a portrait too.