I’ve never been the victim of someone randomly approaching me to solicit a portrait so when I’m the person asking, I like to situated myself in their shoes and formulate what my response would be to such request.
There will always be the perenniall “what’s it for?” question which you’ll get but once you’ve gotten over the hurdle of having a response ready and if you sound and look genuine enough, you’ll be surprised how accepting people can be to have their portrait taken even if they had already told you “no” at the starting point of the conversation. Such was the case with Jaime.
There’s been some neighborhoods which have been more challenging than others as far as getting a “yes” but Bushwick for some reason continues to be the neighborhood where people have a level of openness that one would never expect. I’ve realize that the key to success when approaching strangers is to drop your pride and expect people to reject you and think you’re insane for asking them for a portrait in the first place.
The worst thing about the entire process is actually the anxiety and tension we feel at the thought of approaching someone and not so much the actual rejection when it does happen. I’m not always successful at it but in a neighborhood such as Bushwick that’s predominantly Hispanic, it certainly helps being fluent in Spanish because people feel more at ease when a relation of languge has been established.