I'm definitely a people person. I love sticking my nose ( or in my case a camera lens) into other people's lives and capturing an image that hopefully encapsulates their culture on film.
As I've mentioned before I find that the best way to do this is to have some kind of rapport with people. To spend a little time with them trying to communicate.
One of the tools I use is a little photo album with pictures of my parents, my house, my wife and kids. Pictures of the scenery around where I live. I find that opening up this little book helps people relate to me. Even if we don't speak the same language (which is usually the case) we can often spend a really fun little while looking at my life.
After the ice has been broken then it's usually easy to get the camera out and get lots of happy, smiling people. But that isn't always the case. Some people are just wary of the camera. I always try to be respectful of people's customs and never photograph anyone who obviously doesn't want me to. I figure there's always another 10 people down the road ready to ham it up for me, and no photo is worth hurting someone's feelings for.
And then there was this little bloke. As I walked past his house in the Himalayan foothills of Nepal he could see me coming up the path. He would pop down out of sight, then back up and down and up...and so on the game went as I got closer and closer. Then he just stood there watching me. I pointed to the camera in a gesture of 'can I take your photo?' and had no reaction. I took that as an 'well do what you gotta, I don't care' and snapped one frame.
I tried acting the fool, smiling, anything to get him to grin but he was steadfast in his determination not to be suckered in. As it is I find this photograph a more truthful representation of our interaction. Had he smiled it wouldn't have been a photo of the moment we spent together, but rather an inaccurate one of him posing for the camera. This is how I remember him and this was his face as I continued to walk on up the trail. This is one of my favourite portraits simply for what it says.