Santa Fe Street Portraits

Santa Fe Street Portraits

Assignment: Photograph people in Santa Fe Plaza.

Man in Black Hat
Young man in black hat photographed in Plaza.

The portrait assignment had 3 parts: Take a person’s portrait.  Portrait photography is tricky. You’ve got to approach people and explain who you are and what you are doing.  It was anxiety producing at first, but people will tell you if they don’t want their photograph taken. So, when you ask, you smile and say you are a student, learning the art of portrait photography. Would they be willing to pose? Most people say yes. I had a string of people who agreed to let me photograph them and they told me a little bit about themselves. One couple had just gotten engaged and they asked me to take their picture in return. Another couple was decked out in special clothes, hats, and jewelry. It’s almost like they want to be photographed. Some people will tell you they want to be a photographer and they ask how to start. With a camera, I tell them.

Couple on street
A couple photographed on the street near the Santa Fe Plaza.

The next type of photograph we had to take was a photograph of people doing what they do without posing but you were up close. You introduce yourself and just tell them to go about what they were doing and ignore you. And you photograph away. It takes time and patience. I did photograph a couple who had a dog and they were playing with him on a park bench.

Couple on Park Bench with Dog
A couple on a park bench with a black dog.

The last type of photograph we had to take was as an observer.  The subject is not aware that they are being photographed. You just point your lens around and see what comes up. This is the most fun because you can use a telephoto lens and capture people being themselves.

Popcorn Vendor
Popcorn vendor


Talking to people and getting them involved in what you are doing turned out to the most satisfying. Many people opened up and told you a little bit about themselves after you told them what you needed to do and why. Next, I liked the telephoto shots. I could compose at will with not having to worry whether people were watching.

Happy couple
Happy couple photographed on the plaza.


All in all, it was successful. I might even enjoy doing it again. I am reminded of the story of a guy in England who got a camera in his early twenties and he would photograph people in a small town in England during his lunch break from work. Now it was 30-40 years later and he brought out old photographs of people he had taken long ago.  It caused a stir in the town because so many people had been photographed years ago and they had no knowledge these photographs existed.  It was a chronicle of them, their relationships and their town.

That could be a good assignment to give yourself.

2 Replies to “Santa Fe Street Portraits”

  1. So fun to experience a bit of the class with you!

    Isn’t that Arianna Huffington in the photo of the couple on the street? I thought maybe it was a photoshop assignment!

    1. Arianna Huffington? I guess I wouldn’t recognize her. This couple just looked remarkable to me.
      Are you sure it’s not a look alike? Anyway, I talked with her a little bit. The guy was smiling but not talkative.
      She was interested in becoming a photographer. I told her “all it takes is to get a camera”.


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