Jose Mateo, Jackson Heights

I don’t profess to have acquired the best tactic for approaching people on the streets and if seems like I have, it’s only because I’ve failed to share with you the amount of rejections I get on every outing. There’s no secret formula around it.

It’s like homeless people asking for money on the streets. I’m sure they get their fair share of “no’s” on any given day but it’s how they handle the rejection afterwards that will ultimately determine their will to continue or perhaps eventually abandoned the whole begging thing altogether and try to explore other options in which they can garner people’s attention and sympathy.

On this particular evening, I happen to get more nods of approval than rejections as I walked the streets of Jackson Heights accompanied by fellow photographer Joel Zimmer. The approach one has definitely helps but I’m wondering if having another person tag along with you increases the chances of persuading people to become a subject.

As far as subjects themselves, it’s by far much easier to photograph a guy than it is a girl because the latter will always have that preconceived notion that we’re perverts (male photographers) seeking to exploit their image in some way. I’ve never had this said to me per say but their facial expressions is enough to read through the lines.

I spotted Jose as I crossed the street and the tilted manner in which he was wearing his Beats by Dr. Dre headphones and backwards Starter cap immediately energized me to approach him for a portrait. I always get the question as to whether they should smile or not. I generally leave it up to them but I prefer that moment where nothing seems contrived, where they’ve completely let their guard down and allow me for one brief moment to see who they are and from experience, this has generally happen after the fourth or fifth frame I’ve taken.