How To Deal With People Staring When You're Taking Photos

*Photo from Unsplash

Whether you're taking photos of your food in a crowded restaurant or your OOTDs in a beautiful corner of your village, school, or office - chances are, there will always be people who will stare or even glare at you, or wonder what on earth you are doing. Say hello, I'm just taking photos!

Perhaps if you're a blogger or a shutterbug like me, you are already aware of this especially when you kneel, climb a tree, or even lay down the floor to get the best angle or shot that will satisfy your artistic tendencies. 

Taking photos is already a norm almost everywhere. Apparently, people understand when they see others snapping away here and there. What they probably don't get sometimes is how some people go to such great lengths such as semi-planking on the ground (is that even possible?) just to take a photo. Or in my case, they don't quite understand why I'm taking photos of "random" things or people on the road (hello street photography).

When I was still working in an office, I would usually walk around for about 30 minutes to take photos using my phone before finally heading home. Since I was alone, people would usually stare when I stopped to take a shot. I would always shy away at first. I'd hold my phone down and stop and only continued when the coast was clear. In some cases,  I'd just leave. 

Same thing happened wherever I was. Then I realized it wasn't doing me any good especially when I really wanted to take a good shot. I couldn't get one because I was always conscious or in a hurry to snap. Little by little, I've learned to take my time and not mind anymore when people would look. I guess as long as they didn't look like muggers or snatchers to me, I wouldn't mind. 

[A little segue] Yes, with so many years of walking around the "snatchers capital of Cebu", I have learned to distinguish who are and who aren't. Thankfully, I have avoided them in many occasions and hopefully my snatcher radar won't ever fail me. There was even a snatcher who was about to take my phone while I was in a jeepney one time, but he surprisingly stopped when I stared at him. Darn I felt so powerful!!!! Hahaha! In my mind, I thought maybe he didn't undergo a rigid training, lol. 

[Back to topic] So if you were once like me who couldn't take people staring at you when you take photos, here are some natural ways to deal with them - only based on my experiences in different situations (as you know, we have different mechanisms in place).

Note: Some of these don't apply when you're hired as a photographer because apparently, people will look at you. They will even chase you. ;) 

1. Ignore. 

This is probably what most of you will do. No doubt, because it's the easiest and no-brainer way to handle it. This is also what I do most of the time especially when I'm not in the zone to start a conversation or when I really, really want to concentrate. I just put on my "do not disturb, semi-blank face" then voila, people just step back and go away.

It's also somehow human nature - do your own thing and I'll do mine. As long as you are not disturbing anyone or you are not causing a mess, then for sure, it's fine to take photos.

2. Reciprocate. 

It's a simple idea of "you stare at me, then I stare at you too!" How many times have you actually done that? I don't really maintain eye contact with strangers but in cases when they look at you as if you're some crazy shizz, then look at them too. I just hope you're sending the right signal (ala mental telepathy). You know what I mean. Ha!

So in this scenario, I stare for just a few seconds then break away. Don't stare too long! You don't have time for that. Remember you're taking photos; not attempting to win a staring game. 

3. Smile. 

Nothing beats good vibes! Just because people stare at you doesn't mean they think you're crazy. No, for sure not all the time. It could be that they are amazed and amused at what you're doing. Maybe they want to ask you why you're taking photos of something (if the reason isn't obvious enough for them).

In this case, flash your big bright smile. Then shoot again. End of story.

4. Invite. 

Sometimes I take photos and just that. Other times, I take photos and interview people (like Humans of New York) but I very rarely do this because I fear that I might ask something they won't like especially when my sensitivity skills are at the lowest point of the spectrum. So to make sure I don't offend anyone, I tend to just take a photo and imagine the story behind it. By the way, that's just me. You might have much better people skills than I.

Okay, so if you're someone who want to start a conversation all the time then invite that person staring at you. When I say "invite" here, I mean invite people to be your model or your subject. You can even choreograph. If they agree, then good. If not, then it's still good.

5. Walk away. 

Other than cases of muggers and snatchers wherein you really have to walk away.. or even run as fast as you can, there are also other times when you really just need to walk away. Sometimes, when I feel uneasy and distracted, I just leave and find something better and worth my time.

This also rarely happens because I usually challenge myself to jump out of my comfort zone. But as I said, there are times when it's easier to just leave. You know we're just humans. We feel that too. 

*And rip your jeans like this. Haha! 

Anything you want to add? Feel free to share in the comments section below! I'd love to hear what techniques you have!

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