How can we tell powerful human stories while protecting people’s anonymity? It’s a question that many of us who work in the refugee and migration sector grapple with.
Nastia Nizalova is a professional photographer based in Dover. She specialises in portrait photography and has a background in arts and culture.
There are many reasons why you might not want to be recognized and it becomes extra important if you are in a vulnerable position, yet want your voice to be heard. We are visual creatures and it’s no surprise images make a lasting impact. Nearly every media post and article is accompanied by at least one photo.
But can you remain anonymous while telling your story through photography?
The answer is yes, and… there are so many different ways to go about it.
If your goal is to tell a story through the photo, you will need to think more about composition, colours, symbols and more. Anything that will allow you to paint the bigger picture.
But perhaps you just want visuals to accompany written text and for whatever reason – you must remain anonymous. In this case your primary focus will be on disguising or hiding any identifying features.
Regardless of your end goal, here are six ways you can take a completely anonymous photo.
1. The classic turned back
A sure-fire way to prevent anyone from recognizing your face. It’s also a great opportunity to use your environment to your advantage. From up close or from afar, this method works every time.
This is an awesome technique to take an anonymous photo even if you are fully facing the camera. All you need to do is stand in front of a light source, be it the sun, a window, a lamp or projector. Whether you have a phone or a camera, you can change your settings to make the subject darker and end up with something like this!
3. It’s all in the details
You can also completely avoid the face and take a photo of your hands, or legs, or eyes and still have a beautiful narrative image.
4. One among many
You can also take a photo with other people and the viewer will no longer be completely focused on you! But just to be extra safe, make sure you’re facing away from the camera.
5. Out of focus face
Most smartphones and all cameras allow you to set the area the lens focuses on, leaving the rest of the image slightly blurry in a natural way. This way, even if you’re facing the camera, your features will remain unrecognisable.
6. Small subject
By including more of the environment in the frame, any subject will be too small to recognise.
7. Use objects around you
Of course there’s no easier way to hide your identity than by literally covering your face and leaving the rest to imagination!
8. What your things say about you
Sometimes all you need is to look at the subject from a different angle.
One final tip is to think about the overall feeling and message your photo conveys and whether it matches what you’re trying to say. Even something as little as changing the colour of the t-shirt you are wearing can majorly impact the mood of the photo.
At the end of the day, be as bold and creative as you want. Your story deserves to be heard and seen!