Humor: The “Best” Excuses to Use When Doing Street Photography

English historian Thomas Fuller once said that “Bad excuses are worse than none.” To help street photographers who are having trouble responding to subjects after candid portraits, Swiss street photographer Thomas Leuthard has come up with a list of “the best excuses” to use on the street.

Here are some of Leuthard’s excuses, republished with his permission:

“I just shot this building in the background and you walked into my photo.”
“I’m a tourist and document life in the city”
“Do you know Bruce Gilden? He is even worse…”
“Do you know Vivian Maier? If you kill me, your photo will be released to public…”
“You should see Eric Kim, he is a creepy Korean tourist with a Leica M9…”
“There is this contest on Flickr I’m participating in…”
“I’m a photo student and our teacher wants us to shoot people. He is very tough…”
“I work on the 100 Strangers project…”
“I have this new camera I’m testing today…”

“I love your beautiful eyes…”
“You have an interesting face…”
“I love your style…”
“You are hot. Can I have your phone number…?”
“You look like my grandmother…”
“I’m a talent scout. Do you want to become famous…?”
“I’m a famous photographer looking for new models…”
“I thought you were a celebrity…”
“I thought you were a famous actor…”
“I took your photo, now you owe me 10 dollars…”
“I want to marry you…”
“Elvis is alive…”
“You look like Osama Bin Laden…”
“Don’t look at me, it wasn’t me…”
“My camera is stuck, it shoots by itself…”

“I have a really ugly wife at home and this is curing me…”
“I’m an investment banker. The recession made me do that…”
“I’m young and need the money…”
“I have an unhealthy addiction to ugly people…”
“Others use drugs, I do candid portraits of strangers…”
“You will be on television tomorrow…”
“We are making a movie, please stand back…”
“This is a crime scene investigation. I cannot answer your question…”
“Your wife wants me to observe you. You should bring her some flowers tonight…”
“Thank you, I will sell your portrait to a charity to teach disabled children photography”
“Give me your address, I will send you a print…”
“One day you will be proud that I took your photo…”
“No, I cannot delete the photo, it’s on film…”

In case you’re wondering how real people respond to these excuses, Eric Kim (the “creepy Korean tourist with a Leica M9″) actually recorded a video of himself trying out some of the lines (warning: it gets pretty awkward).

(via Reddit)

Image credits: a face in the crowd by jon smith., Louis Mendes by lourencoparente, street photographer by Paul Keller

  • Troy Holden

    Why do you need an excuse? Why not be direct and say “I’m a photographer that makes photos in the street.”

    I’ve found most people who ask prefer a sincere, honest answer rather than an excuse.

  • Donbury

    Awkward. Eric Kim. He’s the king of awkward

  • Ross Jukes

    “It’s for Instagram, I just can’t afford an Iphone…”

  • Mansgame

    If by street photography people actually shot the street and buildings, there would be little cause for alarm. When you have people like Kai from digital rev chasing people down and shooting them in the face at closeup, then you’re just being an a-hole.

  • eraserhead12

    funny :). but too bad most ‘street photographers’ don’t bother interacting with the people they take photos of. any human gesture, a smile perhaps, would suffice. but they’re usually too smug for that.

    I know you want ‘candid’ photos, but the least you can do is acknowledge that I am aware you stuck your camera a foot away from my face and fired flash. I have never once encountered a courteous street photographer.

  • mmmarc

    You have no sense of humor or knack for satire.

  • Kodachrome64

    I think that’s a bit of a wild accusation. I’m the funniest person I’ve ever met, but I still am not so afraid of people that I have to tell them a tongue-in-cheek lie if they catch me photographing them. It’s my constitutional right.

  • Gokhan Cukurova

    the guy with the hat/red sweater was at PDN Photo Plus in New York two weeks ago. I took a photo of him with my X100. Nice dude. Do you know who that is?

  • rtfe

    Gary Sinise?

  • AW

    I’d like it if next time Eric Kim goes out taking street photos, someone walked alongside or in front of him the whole time, taking candid photos of him. I wonder if he’d get annoyed, or if it would make him think more about his style bothering others.


    I usually just take the picture then say, “thank you”.

  • 9inchnail

    Propably not since he’s making a lot of money with his style. His workshops are quite expensive.

  • 9inchnail

    In America, yes. In Asia, he’s just like everyone else. Asians are socially awkward.

  • 9inchnail

    99.9% of people I photograph never even notice me. Gilden’s and Kim’s approach is a little different, hard not to notice them.

  • 9inchnail

    Yes, because Gary Sinise is an African American gentleman as we all know. I always confuse him with John Cusack. Why do all black actors look the same?

  • rtfe

    yes, because you understood sarcasm comment on humor article. thank you. come again.

  • eraserhead12

    as long as you’re not the type to pester homeless people for instant-gratification ‘wow your face is dirty and old’ pics; or snap obnoxious closeups of people without acknowledging them; or shouting in subways; or firing flash at people driving.

    subtle and discreet is the way to go.

  • Benicio Murray


  • peterblue11

    well at least you are humble…

  • Nate Opgenorth

    While toting around a Canon 1D X…haha that would make for some funny conversations depending on the person.

  • Paul Jay

    It’s a public space. And you ruined my picture ( which is ofcourse not true duh )

  • Pavel Kounine

    Wow, these excuses became really awful really fast.

  • Pavel Kounine

    Courtesy flew out the window the moment they got to within a foot or two of your face to take your picture. That’s an invasion of personal space. I’m frankly surprised photographers that practice THAT particular method of street photography don’t get punched more often–not out of anger, but out of self defence but a startled ‘subject’.

    I photograph people from a more courteous distance and never invade their personal space (much like I don’t want others invading mine). I also rarely thank them or acknowledge them. If they notice me, I smile. There really is no need for anything beyond that.