We all, as photographers, encounter people who do not want to be photographed.
Usually, in my experience, women; and usually because “I am too old”, “I don’t have any make-up on”; “I am not photogenic”… and so on. Sometimes “because the images will get onto the Internet”.
Whatever the reason, what are we as photographers to do?
I think the answer comes in several forms.
First and foremost: be sensitive to this. If I were in charge, no medical doctor would be allowed to graduate without first having undergone a digital rectal exam, and no photographer could use that job title without first being photographed, preferably in the nude. In other words, you need to be sensitive to others’ hesitation to be photographed. After age 30, we all think of ourselves as permanently 25 – except me, because I know I am 25. And these silly camera things distort us so we look older!
Second, try to assure these subjects that if they let you take their photo, they can look at it and you’ll delete what they do not like. You need to have skills for this (hence all my courses), but it is worth it. Skills like not lighting in an unflattering way, using flash, keeping parts dark, and so on.
Third: use tricks. Like this, one of my favourite party shots. I tell hesitant subjects “I’ll blur you – hold out your drink, I’ll show you”.
The usual reaction is “awesome”.
Or try more unusual shots, like these:
There too, the usual reaction is “awesome”.
Finally: do respect the “no” and walk away, but do try again later. Often people change their mind. In photography, sometimes “no” means “No, but I hope you persuade me”.