Strangers Project - Street Portraits, Covent Garden - London

On Sunday, I met up with photographer Alex Beadon for a project that has now been named, ‘Strangers Project’.

We connected via Twitter and Alex invited me to a meetup in London. As luck had it, we both organised separate meet-ups with other photographers on the same day too. (See next blog post, coming soon ‘TweetUpMeetUp’). Therefore we decided to meet up beforehand for a catch up, a quick coffee and the opportunity to shoot too. Alex’s idea was to shoot portaits of people on the street and I was really up for doing this. (I’m hoping in the future to one day get the guts to even try some strobist stuff).

So we had an hour to shoot in Covent Garden and here’s some tips on what we did:-

– First we quick location scout for possible areas to shoot in, took some test shots, understanding the light and tried out a few compositions

– We found a great spot and used some old chewing gum (already on the floor) as our ”marker” for passers by to hover over for each shot. This spot ensured  they were in the shade and not in direct sunlight (no squinting).

– We then waited for people to stroll by and we asked them politely if they would mind us taking their photo for our personal project. I won’t lie, this was hard and we had a few  rejections. But we kept going and soon had a taker!

Here are a few other tips for asking people if you can take their photo:

– Smile

– Never approach someone from behind and tap them on the shoulder (its just plain creepy)

– Try not to approach someone head on, approach instead from the side, or at an angle (learnt this from my corporate days! .. its a bit confrontational walking directly up to someone)

– If they say no, smile, wish them a good day and wait for the next person

– Shoot with a friend or another photographer. This kept our spirits up and we were able to move on after any rejections

– If they say yes to a photo, then RESULT! Hide your excitement, grab your camera, ask them to stand in the actual area you’d like them to be in (explain why) and then take a shot

– Thank them (a lot!) for the opportunity to capture them on camera and hand them a business card.

– Offer everyone a copy of the image if they email you

– Be patient

(please feel free to add more if you have done this before too!!)

If I took your shot on Sunday, Thank you for allowing me to do so. I’ll gladly send you the file in high resolution – drop me an email to info[@]sachinkhona[.]com!

I was super nervous about this but soon gained confidence to just ask anyone and everyone. I had so much fun, connected with so many Londoners and I’m really happy with the results.

Thanks for the man who kindly first said yes to us after we suffered a few rejections, and especially the very polite, non English speaking older gentleman from Japan who said no, but then came back and said yes! You are a star!!

Below are some of my favourite from the day…

Info on shots: All shot with Canon 5D, using 50mm f/1.8 lens – ISO 400 throughout, Aperture was 2.2 or 2.4 and Shutter Speeds started at 1/400 then to 1/800 and finally 1/1000 as it got brighter during the morning. You can see this info however on the images in the gallery. Let me know if you have any queries…




Here are the images, all in order, 34 shots in 64 minutes in a Gallery :-

Reviewing these pictures make me smile and proud! Thanks Alex for getting me off my butt and doing this!

How liberating…




[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by paul clapperton and Sachin Khona, Sachin Khona. Sachin Khona said: 'Strangers Portraits' up on the blog! Portraits taken of strangers in London's Covent Garden #portrait […]


This is Awesome! I have always wanted to do this and see people I would love to photograph but feel I didn't know how to approach them. Love this post and all the FAB head shots! Thanks for sharing!:)

Hey men, You make me wish I was still in London. Beautiful work. Love the pictures, and the total randomness (diversity of clothing style, expression, wrinkles, attitude, etc…) of everyone.

Waiman Yau

Great stuff!


Cool project – makes me want to visit London and do something like this one random weekend in the states.

Really great portraits from your morning project. I'm now having to think about whether I have the balls to do it myself!


Really interesting. I love how each is unique, even though they're all headshots. Different expressions, different personality quirks. Very cool project.


these are AMAZING! i love the idea of this project and you really rocked it. you need to publish a book :)


Sachin!! These are awesome!! But you must know that my favorite is the 2nd to last image. Prettiest girl EVER and you captured her so amazingly!! Amazing job! :) So much fun, we'll definitely have to do it again some day!

Sachin, these are amazing!!! I agree with Alex, the second to last one of the girl is a knockout! She's beautiful. My favorites are the three older men though. There is something that I just love about wrinkles. These portraits are stunning.


Oh Sachin! What a truly amazing project! So simple but it encapsulates what photography is all about – documenting people and the life around us.

Love these shots Sachin – something I'd love to get the nerve up to do myself!
[btw – I've been following your blog since watching Jasmine Star's creative live!]

Jo-Anne Kyle

I think they are all stars! The background and lighting really worked out and it sounds like you had fun with this shoot. Great shots, Sachin.

Hey Sachin! Interesting project and awesome portraits. And thank you for very interesting and detailed post.


Hey Sachin, truly inspiring project for other photographers!!! Despite facing rejections you stayed on the course. At first I thought about technical data, Its not about fstops n ISO n etc… Looked very closely n thought about it. Truly there is a connection between subject n photographer….Neil Patel


Love this! I would love to do this sometime too…Can I just ask: did you pose them or instruct them in anyway(other than “stand here)?

Mirian Silva

Wow…these are great! I loved them and the idea…put me totally on creative mode. Great job!

Shannon Gillespie

These are fantastic!

These are fantastic. I love how in a small frame, you have captured everyone's personality.
I really want to try this now.


Ohhhh, this sends me back 1.5 years when I shoot the Thousand Portraits with Eamon Lane! :)
Well done, overcoming the fear of rejection is always a daunting task!



These are fab! I admire you and Alex for stepping out of your comfort zones and for getting gorgeous results!


Hi MJ,
I thought about this a lot, how to approach people and deliver a sentence to get them to take a shot. I felt the quicker the sentence and the less it had them asking questions, the better. You need to spark interest, not for them to be defensive. There is a thin line, but you will figure it out after a few rejections and successes!
Good luck!


London is super diverse right! I felt we could have captured more diversity but really happy with what we got!


Do it !! and tweet me the results ;)


Ha! Thanks Jess!!


Yes, she had a really great look about her! Very powerful eyes too!!
Thanks Alex for this awesome idea!


Thank you Laura…
The older folks were real characters!.. we spoke to them each for a few minutes longer than everyone else..
I think the oldest gentleman there was a spy and used to be in the navy too!! Class act..


Thank you Ardean!


Hi Erica
All the notes on posing and placement area above ;)


I was listening to Chase Jarvis speak last Friday about his 100 portraits project and he pretty much spent a day over 3 years with every single one of the people he was shooting. He got to know them, built a connection, got them in their element and then started shooting. His portraits are very powerful!


Thanks everyone for the comments.. I replied to a few of you below…
I appreciate you taking the time to comment!
If you do this project too, be sure to email/tweet me a link to it


Thanks Carlo!
Folks – you can check out Carlo & Eamon's project here:

Great portraits! Congrats on having the courage to do this! Not sure I would be so comfortable!

Such an interesting concept. Love the idea!

Neat idea – I like seeing all the people who stopped and let you photograph them :)

Great set of tips Sachin and great results too. Cities can be such anonymous places and you've painted a few brush strokes of the soul of the place with these.

Ana Carla Furtado

Hello Sachin, good morning!!!!

At first, when you stopped us for a photo I thought “what the heck??!! This only happens in Europe…” (laughs) but then, after all explanations, your and Alex's simpathy and all, my friend and I had a good laugh!

The photos look perfect, and I loved seeing my photo on your blog, but after seeing I'm one of your favourites, I feel like a STAR!!! (laughs)

Loved the engagement photos of your friends!! When I get engaged maybe you can come down to Brazil and take mine as well!!! =-)

I'm the third one from the top, huge sunglasses and black scarf, freeeezing in London!!!

You both will be welcome in Brazil to take nice photos over here too, anytime!



Ana Carla Furtado

[…] usually obsessed with sharpness on portraits. I did a street portraits shoot with Alex Beadon on Sunday (actually right before this meetup and model shoot) and wanted sharp eyes in every image. […]

Such great idea! Always wanted to do it but always chicken out! :p


Fantastic portraits! Really admire the courage too :) That had to b a good lesson ;)

Killer idea and awesome work. Definitely some interesting characters in there. Great job.


Thank you Ana! I would love to come to Brazil..ha!
Thanks for letting Alex and I take your photo!!
Enjoy London!!


'' a few brush strokes of the soul of the place with these''
Wow.. Thank you Phill!!

Awesome work… love it


Haha, I love how many of them look so darn confused. XD That second to last shot- she looks so intense! Reminds me of that National Geographic shot of the Indian woman with green eyes. Gorgeous.


Absolutely awesome!! I've always wanted to do this, but am afraid of someone calling the cops on me. Which isn't good, since my husband is a cop.

Hurry and do this again so I can live vicariously through you!


These are FANTASTIC portraits! You took their expression very well. I've always wanted to do something like this but don't have any guts to approach strangers ;p

Sachin, Great post and images. This is something I want to do very soon myself. The image of the gent wearing the Thinsulate hat (5th from bottom) would be awesome in black and white.

Whlist it take guts to do this, it must be great for meeting new people and potential networking also.

Look forward to seeing more of your future work.


[…] at Rittenhouse Square to try a little project that we recently saw on the blogs of Alex Beadon and Sachin Khona. Alex and Sachin got together in London’s Covent Garden to shoot street portraits. […]


Awesome! great work

[…] joint project about the people in the “Old City” of Baku. I was mainly inspired by the “Strangers Project” of the British photographer Sachin Khona and wanted to do something like that in Baku. The idea was […]

Brilliant idea and awesome result,I must say!!! Loved it! Definitely inspired me too! I think i’m gonna try this as well! Thanks for sharing this experience ^_^ ( if i’ll have the guts to do it, i’ll share my experiences too! Hope i’ll survive the shoot :P)

[…] 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 […]

[…] at some point soon too. You can see those images where I shot with my friend Alex Beadon right HERE and then when I did it solo HERE. Both in London, […]

Give me a shout the next time you plan another instalment of the the Strangers Project. I’d love to come out.

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