Strangers Portraits | London | Personal Project


On Saturday, I got off my butt and finally convinced myself that today was the day to do street portraits of strangers. I woke up, lay in bed playing tricks with mind. I was convincing myself that “its too cloudy for it today” (too cloudy!! haha! what an excuse!? clouds are the best!)…Or “it could rain”… “People are shopping for Christmas it may be too busy”… “You’re going to the Arsenal match later, don’t take your expensive gear with you”… “You may miss your train, then you won’t have enough time to shoot”.

All excuses.

I told my mind to shut up and just do it. This was key for me. Excuses are always there. The same ones are there just before you approach your first person, but once you get your first yes, and then the next and the next, you forget why you worried in the first place. Wasted energy.

Ill start from the beginning. Last year, I shot some street portraits with a friend, Alex Beadon. I had an amazing time and since then I’ve always wanted to do it again. Alex gave me the kick up the butt to try it out and having her by my side made it easier. It was still super tough and I was scared asking people if I could take their photo.

I had to do it again.

One, to see if I could do it and two, to feel that rush I felt last year. It was an amazing buzz.

I also need to keep pushing myself and trying new things. Getting out of my comfort zone. (That was usually my reply when people asked why (usually after they said ‘yes’) as to why I was doing this).

Doing it solo 

A new thing for me here was trying it solo.  The first approach is always the hardest. The first few people said no. Then the gentleman below pictured first said yes! I was surprised I even got the eye in focus my hand was shaking so much. It continued to shake for the next 5 or 6 and composition wise, I feel the photos could be better but the fact I got the image is what I’m most proud of.

85mm 1.8

The 85mm 1.8 is a fantastic lens. I’m in love with its sharpness, the stunning bokeh it produced and its ability to isolate my subjects beautifully. It’s a great portrait lens! I’m sure it will be used often at weddings and I’m looking forward to that. Most of all, I loved the fact that it gave me a comfortable distance between me and my subject. Not too close, not too far. The compression in the images is great for its focal length and that’s what I wanted. No awkward 50mm in front of a stranger getting too close and bending my subjects features. No massive 70-200mm torpedo pointed at my subjects head. Just the perfect lens for what I wanted.

I have other ideas for street/strangers portraits but for now, my aim was to just get out there and shoot.

So here are the results…

Thank you to all the kind people who said ‘yes’, who stopped and chatted with me and encouraged me. [If you’d like your portrait, please email me at info(@)sachinkhona(.) com and I’ll gladly email you a copy]


This gentleman above was the first to say yes! Massive thank you to you Sir!

The lady in the middle was really encouraging. We spoke about street portraits and the amazing work of Bill Cunningham. She also introduced me to two amazing websites I’ll definitely looking more into. They are The Satorialist and Garance Dore’s blog.

One of my favs above! Thank you Sir! 

A mother (right) and her son (left). I smile every time I see these photos. Thanks mum for letting me take a picture of your son! I passed the interrogation successfully and you let me take your photo too! :)Getting the above 3 fellas to stop smiling was tough. (I always ask for a neutral expression for consistency in my images) They were so excited for me to take their shots. Probably more than I was of taking theirs!

Thank you for letting me take your portraits.

The fella in the hat above probably wouldn’t have made my set as I can’t see his eyes. But the story here is he carried a Leica M9 and was with his 2 friends, one of whom was Bruce Gilden, a magnum photographer! It’s amazing who you bump into on the streets.

My final portrait that day was of the girl above. I saw her eyes from 20 metres away and I knew I had to have a portrait of her. She kindly said yes.

Thank you again everyone for letting me take your portrait. It was a lot of fun for me!


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Superb Sachin. Hats off to you bro. Doing this when you come here for sure.

Stepping outta your comfort zone is the toughest but asking strangers to let you photograph them is even tougher! well done ! Lovely shots.

Luke Hayden

The Satorialist is great. You should check out this:

Great pictures man :)

Sachin – those are just ridiculous! I am blown away by how amazing they are! I LOVE the 85 lens and am always torn between that and the 35. Absolutely FABULOUS photographs and I’d love to hear if any of them do ask for their photos! They are awesome!

Great portraits Sachin. They look amazing, such fantastic detail. The girl in the red coat looks stunning, awesome detail in her eyes. It has given me the inspiration I need to get out of my comfort zone and try something new.

Michael Wachniak

I am so blown away by this post, Sach. Yet again, you just went next level. Wow.


Awesome Sach! Love seeing the modge podge of people you come across.


holy crapshithe!! great post. true awesomesauce…

These are excellent!!

And you ran into Bruce Gilden while street shooting?! That’s irony right there!

These projects are always valuable in getting you to open yourself up as a photographer. Great job.

Nice work dude… you really should have got one of Bruce Gilden though :-)


Stephen, I did try and get one of Bruce. I don’t think he appreciated my efforts. He didn’t regard what I was doing as ‘street’.

Tis a shame.

Thanks for all the kind comments guys! Ill be replying to some of you individually too :)

Quality job mate. Also think that’s made me want that lens even more.
I’d love to do a little series like this – maybe I should come to the big smoke and you can hold my hand ;)

Super Sachin, it’s the hardest thing but also the most rewarding. Great set of images!

What a cool (and scary) exercise! I don’t have the guts, plus, I live in a town of about 100, haha.

Great pics, and so cool that some people stop to chat. Nice websites that the lady gave you.

SUCH a neat set. I wish I had the nerve to do something like it!

I love love love these, Sachin. I know exactly how you felt when I first asked a stranger to take their portrait too. So scary but exciting at the same time. I’ve been following the Sartorialist and Garance Dore for years and I think you’d love them too!

I’m so incredibly happy for you and I admire you so much for going through with it! I still don’t think I could do it alone. AHH! You rock.

Brilliant work! Wow, this is something I’d love to do (one day).

These are really wonderful. Way to get out of your comfort zone!

Inspiring to get to the streets… great body of portraits.

great work Sachin! I really like what you did here!

Jess Robertson

These are AMAZING! I’ve wanted to do this ever since you posted the first one…now I need to stop making excuses :) thanks for the lens recommendation as well…sounds like a great lens! Great job all around! xo

WONDERFUL images and good for you Sachin. I have being playing with this idea for a while, but like you I have been making excuses, but maybe tomorrow? Depends on the weather :P

This is so refreshing! Great work! Good for you for getting off your keister and doing it!

Wow so many interesting characters. Great project!

What a wonderful collection of faces!! I really enjoyed these.

This is soooo awesome! I totally want to do this one day! Amazing amazing!! The fist shot is killer, and so are well, all of them!


Thanks so much everyone! If you go out and do some portraits, please drop me a link here or via email!
I’d love to see how you get on :)

Brilliant Sachin… You da man.

Super cool! I hope these people took your card and can see the awesome photos you took of them! Quality!

So honest and so beautiful. People are beautiful. In your face, H&M and your fake bodies! Haha.

love images subjects eyes says alot about subjects. sachin, thnank for sharing your personal project with us! Neil

This is so cool and motivational!! WOW, I need to shut my mind up also and get out and try this :) Thanks for sharing!

I seriously love this. Good for you! Its so inspiring. I have so wanted to take pictures of strangers before, but I was so nervous and didn’t have guts to approach them. I was in NYC wanting to take street portraits with my mom, and my mom asked people for me! haha. Really want to do this. Thanks so much for doing this and posting it.

– Meredith

great serie. beautiful and flattering light on your subjects.

[…] see those images where I shot with my friend Alex Beadon right HERE and then when I did it solo HERE. Both in London, […]

[…] biggest push was discovering a blog post by photographer Sachin Khona – I’ve always been an admirer of Sachin, not only of his incredible work but also of […]

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