Approaching strangers whether in your own community or from a foreign culture is one of the more difficult skills even veteran photographers often struggle with.
For some, getting comfortable with taking photos of strangers can involve facing their fear and anxiety or learning more about how different cultures feel about being photographed. This is something I struggle with specifically here at home. I personally don't like to be photographed and I let that sometimes influence my approach with others out on the streets. When I travel, however, the often lack of verbal communication and desire I have to learn about other cultures has helped me be more comfortable in asking to take a photo or even taking a photo and then approaching individuals. Taking the extra time to have a conversation or use my camera as a tool to open doors to better possibilities has really helped to improve how I handle these situations.
At the end of the day, the best way to improve both your feelings about it and your images as a whole is to just force yourself to get out there and try. To help you get started, photographer Pierre Lambert has some tips and tricks he has used over the years to help become more comfortable while interacting in foreign cultures as well as ways to improve those interactions to make better images. Lots of photographers tackle these difficulties in different ways, and I think learning from as many photographers as possible helps you find your own path to success.
Do you struggle with approaching strangers? Do you find it more difficult in your own culture or when immersed in others? Let us know in the comments what has helped you get over these issues.