People who like people, frequently want to document the locals when taking a trip. These type of portraits add depth and texture to any travel coverage.
So what is the secret for taking good portraits? JUST ASK IF YOU MAY TAKE THEIR PHOTO, and promise to send them a copy once you get back from the trip. Its easier then ever with email. If you're a pro you may want to also ask for a model release.
I was updating the Arizona Insight Guide when I met this lovely young Native American woman working at the Hubbell Trading Post near Monument Valley, Arizona. She worked in a room with a large window and the background seemed perfect with an old 19th century sepia portrait hanging on the wall behind her; it added balance to my composition, allowing me to use the rule of thirds.
I always try to use the available light if possible when doing portraits. My light source was a big window to my right. I used a Canon 16-35mm f2.8 lens at 1/40 sec at 400 ISO. I asked my subject to look out the window, which gave me a flat front light which I didn't like (picture 1). So then asked her to look into the camera. Her second head position allowed the window light to create a nice side light for a portrait that I liked (picture 2). I also tipped the camera to create a variation for my editor (picture 3).
So next time you see someone interesting don't be afraid to ask if you can take their picture - they might just say yes!