If you've ever wanted to be able to take outfit photos in public without feeling (as) awkward, this is the perfect post for you.
Logically, starting out, it'll be easier to pick a place with less traffic. You can choose a quiet street, or a time when people aren't out, like during school/work hours, or early in the morning. I still tend to prefer these places, since you don't have to worry about people in the background of your photos, or staying out of people's ways.
Try: quiet side streets, business districts on the weekends, church parking lots (they seem to have great flowers) on the weekdays.
Avoid: major roads, shooting at a school/workplace during their hours, downtown during lunch/dinner.
Making sure everything runs smoothly includes trying on the outfit beforehand, having some inspiration photos, and a few go to poses. It sounds obvious, but sometimes outfits just don't fit the way you'd think! Inspiration photos are helpful both to you and your photographer, and it's great to be on the same page with what you're looking to get. Practice posing a bit in the mirror, which can feel very uncomfortable, but it'll help you relax if you're not comfortable in front of the camera.
I also feel like we don't look into the mirror and just appreciate what's in front of us nearly enough!
When strangers are better than friends
Inevitably, people will notice you, and ask what you're doing. I typically tell them it's for school (that lets you get away with almost anything), as I feel like saying "I run a fashion blog" doesn't carry the same weight. Unless you look really professional and have a heavy camera with tons of lighting equipment. Which I don't (yet).
I don't mind when strangers see me, because I'm so used to it with taking pictures of other people for my portfolio and "modeling" with friends, but it would be incredibly awkward if friends or people I know saw me. I haven't told people I know in real life about my blog, because there are so many sides to myself that I don't necessarily exhibit to those I interact with on a daily basis. It would keep me from being able to talk about whatever I'd like, though maybe I will someday.
To avoid this, I try and find less well known locations, shoot at odd times, or drive outside of my city. It's not too far, and it makes for a great change of scenery as well. To find new locations, I simply keep aware of my surroundings and take pictures with my phone of potential settings. While I used to zone out during my morning commute, I'm now always looking for interesting nooks and crannies instead.
Some of the best places I've shot at are most likely technically not allowed. Okay, probably more than likely. I've snuck up roof tops, slipped into empty houses, and climbed over many, many fences. A technique I've picked up would be to hold very still when someone walks by. We're less likely to notice something that isn't moving, and most people are too preoccupied with their own days to actively look around them - a blessing in disguise. Avoid eye contact! It would give people a reason to talk to you, and if you don't have a legitimate reason to be there, you don't really want that.
Of course, use your own judgement about whether locations are safe to shoot in. I wouldn't drive out to an abandoned house in the middle of nowhere - literally every horror movie ever! Make sure to let people know where you're going, and ideally bring a strong friend.
If you're in need of new people to shoot or take your photos, here are some great ways to meet new people online safely.
"Will you please move already?"
When shooting in heavy traffic areas, remember to be considerate of others. While we all want those casual, crossing the street photos, they're a real hassle to get, and traffic may not be forgiving. While I'm a big fan of city shots, it's irritating for me when I have to step around some people taking photos in the middle of the sidewalk.
The only thing that matters
Finally, as with most things, confidence is key. If you have fun with it, you won't feel weird or uncomfortable if a few people happen to glance your way. I used to only tolerate being in front of the camera if my friends were taking the pictures, and having strangers take my photos was a nightmare. I was always worried a shot wouldn't come out right, like I had to be perpetually photogenic.
That's not true. As we've all been reminded over the last few weeks with the Essena O'Neill story, social media is not real life, and neither are my images. They're snippets, curated from hundreds more.
Celebrity lookalike? I think yes!
Because I get up every morning at 6am, I'm a firm believer of sleeping in on weekends. But when I voluntarily chose to get up early, it's usually for something big! I'm so glad we got to this football field at 8am, there are typically people doing athletic things (ugh right?), but it was blissfully empty that early on a Sunday.
My inspiration for this outfit was undoubtedly Taylor Swift. I'm pretty sure she's been spotted in this like a million times. If you squint, I'm basically Taylor.
Hopefully this (rather wordy) guide helped out a bit, go forth and take photos in front of all those people!
What was your most awkward experience taking photos? Do you have tips or questions? What's your favorite place to shoot?