How to diffuse confrontations in Street photography in Nigeria


Oh yes, In my last post I did say that this would be our next topic. So let’s get to the point here, you can never be a good street photographer and never get confronted for once or twice unless you shooting with some zoom lens (which is bad for street photography) or you just don’t take close up portraits of people on the street. So let’s say you are in when Mushin for example (Mushin is one of the most notorious areas of Lagos) and you taking street photographs of random people and suddenly you take one man, he notices you and comes to you and says “who are you to take my photographs?”. Golden rule is, if you took his picture never deny it. One thing you shouldn’t say is “am a street photographer” most people here don’t know such exist so rather if you are much younger (below 25) just say you a student and you were given an assignment. This has worked for me tons of times, whenever they ask for more questions I bring out my student ID and then am free. But if you are of a much older demography, you can just tell me you bought the camera newly and you are testing it. If the person insist they check your camera and find themselves boldly framed in your shot, just appreciate the image in their presence with nice words like “this your picture looks great, or you don’t like it?” asking that question creates a sense of calmness in such a person and they become double minded on what next to say. Most people end up saying delete it (which you should do immediately) while some people might reason with you and appreciate the work of art.

Sometimes if you see your the person confronting you as a gentle type by appearance, you can take the pain to explain the motive behind your pictures and most will buy your idea and give you some postures while others won’t. Now the following things I would list and below are things you should do and those you should never do.

Smile always, even as you explain yourself (the smile is a quintessential instrument every street photographer must possess)

Keep your camera around your neck always, especially when explaining yourself (I usually have my camera around my neck via my left am. It makes the camera had to remove unless I raise my arm up) because they may want to wrestle it from you.

If you walking with a friend for the shoot, two of you shouldn’t try and explain yourself at the same time, it makes you look like a couple of thieves.

Whenever they let you keep the picture, say a big thank youNOW DON’T DO THESE

never lie that you didn’t take the photo because 96% of people will reply with a let me see your camera and once they see their pictures you in deep shit.

Don’t run when you see someone calling you from afar because they’ve spotted you taking pictures. It makes you become a potential suspect.

Never raise your voice whenever someone is challenging you, calmness wins the race

Never say you are right, once you are accused you are always wrong. Just apologize and delete (even if it’s a picture you cherish)

So guys, that should do it for today. Don’t forget follow my twitter and instagram respectively. Peace out.


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