Part of being on a photography vacation is learning how to take photos of people respectfully and ethically. Ultimately, the happier your subject is, the better the final shot will be. Always request permission before taking someone’s photo – and if they are unsure, just thank them and don’t try and change their mind. And, just as back home, never photograph a child without their parent/guardian’s permission.
Even better, strike up a conversation – about the produce they are selling, the food they are cooking, the artwork they are creating. If you don’t get a photo, you’ve still learned about the local culture (and the locals are encouraged to see tourists as people they can engage with – not just who come along, take a photo and leave). And if you do get a photo – you’ll have a lovely story to accompany it as well.
Except in certain circumstances (Ethiopia’s Omo Valley
being a notorious example), you shouldn’t offer money for photographs, or give sweets or trinkets to children. Sometimes it may be appropriate to give gifts to a village elder or local guide to distribute later on. However, if you are taking a photo of a stallholder or craftsperson, for example, it’s a nice gesture to purchase something from them. Alternatively, in more remote regions where people rarely have the opportunity to take pictures of themselves or their families, you could offer to send them the printed photos – but only do this if you are sure you are going to follow up on your promise.