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People photography woman with a big smile in Vietnam
People photography black and white photo of a man in KL
People photography a man in petaling street drinking from plastic bags
People photography woman outside noodle shop chinatown

People photography

I’ve been making photographs of people for over a decade. In those early days of learning pictorial lighting, an inanimate model for practice was perfect.  Namely, a female polystyrene head. Which I draped with synthetic wigs. Sometimes a brunette long hair wig, alternating with a bob cut short blond wig. This was the beginning of my people photography portraiture business.

Portraiture studio photography

In addition, the polystyrene head model was useful for experimenting with lighting styles. She was patient and her day rate was very affordable. However, she was rigid, and expressionless. After a ton of practice and dedication, I finally became confident with the basics of portrait photography lighting variations, equipment and props. Friends noticed my process and stepped in as models. Eventually, I became a working commercial portrait photographer.

Street portrait photography

Venturing out of the studio, and on to the streets to photograph strangers was a big learning curve. In the beginning, I was very timid. Which was evident in the photographs. Unfortunately, the person in the picture was at best only a third of the photo frame. A poor result. As my confidence and skill improved, I progressed to asking for consent from people for their image. Thus, resulting in a more engaged and intimate street portrait.

Sensitivity to cultures

Before dashing out with your camera in hand it is advisable to do a-little research beforehand on country customs. In particular, residents desire, hesitancy or in fact objections to posing for street portraits. Finally, be considerate and ask the subject’s permission for their picture.

Portraits with permission

The street portrait photographs curated here are portraits made with permission from the subjects. Head over to the ‘Portrait’ gallery for more black and white street portraits.

Street portrait images Kuala Lumpur – Malaysia © 2017 – 2020
Tahnia Roberts

Author Tahnia Roberts

Tahnia is a visual storyteller who uses photography to explore, investigate and document her surroundings. An avid collector of found objects which frequently become still life compositions. Black and white photography is her preferred medium. Born and raised in New Zealand, she currently resides in Kuala Lumpur - Malaysia.

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