Rick Sammon is a prolific travel photographer, author and instructor who has just written an interesting article in Layers magazine titled The Art of the On-Location Portraits.
This sentence caught my eye: "For me, the key to getting a good on-location portrait is to fall in love—photographically—with the subject. That’s exactly what I did when I saw this young woman. Out of the 50 or so people who lived in this particular village, she caught my eye immediately.
I couldn't agree more. The key to a good portrait (in fact, I'd argue it's the same whether on location or in a studio) is to establish a rapport with your subject. I've posted about this very thing in June last year in a post titled POV: Better Travel Photography . The foundation of successful environmental portraiture and ethnographic photography is the establishment of a relationship between the photographer and subjects....it's a no-brainer. When I lead my photo tours, I always sound like a broken record, and the mantra is "connect with your subject(s)...befriend them and start a conversation". Not only will the photographers make much better photographs, but they'll have background stories to go along with them. You'll be surprised at how long these memories stay with you.
So yes, absolutely...do what Rick Sammon says, fall in love photographically with your subject!!!
Via David duChemin's excellent Pixelated Image blog