Sunday, 24 February 2013

100 Strangers - NYC, February 2013

This is a quick post to say thanks to Genesis, Prashant, Neil, Evan, Kelly, Erica, Yoto and John. Thanks for chatting and letting me take your portraits. Please do email me at the address shared if you'd like copies of your pictures emailed to you. It was a pleasure to meet you, and I hope you're enjoying an amazing end to the month.

Erica (Stranger #13/100), NYC Time Square

Via Flickr:
Erica and her friend (sorry; I forgot her name!) were in Times Square checking out the lights ahead of a Broadway show trip. She's a Long Island native, hosting her visitor from Portland. I feel bad not recalling her friend's name, as she was massively helpful holding the giant golden reflector to the right of this shot. That bounced back light from a giant video advertising board to the left of shot, at a neat 45 degree angle up.

As well as appreciating Erica's taking part, she was hugely patient waiting for the video ads to scroll through - I was shooting without a flash, and only a couple of the ads were bright enough to light the shot. Thank you Aerie for an insanely bright peach/white advertisement that offered about two stops more light than the average, and about three more than Bank of America's grim navy blue offering.

We did a quick run of shots looking up Broadway - first going for a neutral look. When Erica and friend reviewed them on the back of the camera, though, she said how much she'd prefer to be smiling, so we fired off a few more frames. This one was the best.

Erica - thank you again for being such a great sport, and agreeing to become Stranger #13 in my ongoing 100 Strangers Project.

In terms of processing, I've included a (near) SOOC version in the comments below. There were a few distracting highlights in the bokeh which I went on to correct in Photoshop, but the main change was to the white balance to give that slightly aqueous glow.

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Evan (Stranger #12/100), NYC West Village

Via Flickr:
Evan works in a West Village hat shop and agreed to take five minutes out of a quick circuit around the block between shifts to become Stranger #12 in my 100 Strangers Project.

He's a really engaging guy, and clearly massively talented. He's a sculptor and artist as well as a fashion designer, living in Harlem having moved to NYC from St Louis. As we chatted about his work and art, his energy and enthusiasm came through as intense as the late afternoon sun lighting this shot.

Evan - thanks for taking the time to stop and chat on a cold day! I hugely enjoyed our encounter, and hope you like your image! Thank you for taking part in the project.

Regarding the light in this one, I went into the shot with the constant "move to the shade / find diffuse light" mantra churning round and round in my brain - but I chose to disregard it. The warmth and intensity of the end of day sun was just too tempting. I'd seen this shop window opposite the Magnolia Bakery and wanted to use it. I'd hoped it would reflect a bit of light back to the right side of his face, and Evan is holding my reflector just out of shot below his face. I know it's not classic portrait light, and not the most flattering, but thought Evan had the looks and character to stand up to it and win!

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Prashant (Stranger #11/100), NYC High Line

Via Flickr:
This is Prashant, who kindly agreed to be Stranger 11 in my ongoing 100 Strangers Project.

Whilst an incredible learning event, the 100 Stranger's Feb 2013 meet up in Brick Lane did have an impact on my thoroughness of interrogation/conversation. The general MO was about taking pictures, so I fear I channeled an excessive amount of my energy into accosting and directing Prashant and his girlfriend as they strolled down NYC's High Line. That's something I realised after shooting this portrait, and which I've corrected on subsequent shots (to come).

So embarrassingly I can't tell you more than they had the feel of NYC locals, enjoying an intense intellectual discussion before I ambushed them. Prashant's associate was incredibly game holding the gold reflector in harsh wind; the day we shot this was maybe -10C with the wind. That glow is light, not heat! Wanting to get the street art in the backdrop, and shooting from the narrow overlook, demanded a wrestle with a hard winter sun for backlight. The reflector is maybe a bit harsh bouncing that light back in. I figured we'd need to warmth of the gold side to give Prashant equal stage with the bright rainbow backdrop, yet perhaps a more diffuse white side would have given a more even tone.

Prashant was a great guy - he took the shoot very seriously, yet with a cool sense of humour. He also put up with dazzling himself by removing the shades. When I first saw him the shades gave him a fantastic edge to go with the sharp discussion, yet I much prefer the shots without them. There's a keen intelligence to that gaze, and I think it better expresses the focused character that came across when we spoke.

Prashant - thanks so much for agreeing to be part of the project. I hope you had a fantastic day after we'd met and that you like your pictures!

Sorry to my contacts for recent inactivity - hopefully the above note of holiday explains things! Look forward to catching up soon. Hopefully you're all fantastically well.

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Layla (Stranger #10/100), London Brick Lane

Via Flickr:
This is Layla, who kindly agreed to become Stranger #10 in my ongoing 100 Strangers Project. This is another where thanks are due to Xtarsy for his help holding and aiming a 110cm gold reflector.

We'd been chatting to some girls taking street portraits themselves for a photo journalism course, just off Brick Lane. As I was spending a day asking others for their portraits, it seemed a suitable "karma recharge" to let others take mine. As we finished, I saw Layla's awesome red hair and cool leather jacket and rushed up to Brick Lane to say "hi". She was rocking a seriously high impact look, yet was the friendliest person ever.

We walked twenty paces off the side road to some street art (it's a fox design I've seen on Whitecross Street too, over in Islington) for a punchy background and shot a few frames with the gold reflector. Thinking about it, maybe it'd have been better to try using it as a diffuser - there was really too much light, as shown by some of the blown highlights behind Layla's amazing hair. That bar of white is a little distracting too.

Anyway - learning points aside, I'm still really pleased with the outcome. Proper Shoreditch style and a chat with a fantastic person.

Thanks Layla - hope you like your picture and are having a superb weekend!

Friday, 8 February 2013

Unknown (Stranger #9/100), London Brick Lane

Via Flickr:
So, just nine shots into the 100 and I have broken one of the rules I made myself and forgot to ask a stranger's name. I did share my Moo card with the fantastic girl in the shot above, so if you're her and are reading this - I'm sorry! Please drop me a note so I can correct it!

I saw her sitting on the pavement with a friend, and really liked the bold look and spectacles. I explained the 100 Strangers Project, and she was happy to join in. We walked twenty yards or so to get some street art for the backdrop, then fired off a few shots with xtarsy kindly assisting with a 110cm gold reflector.

It was plain just through the viewfinder that the reflector was lighting up more of her glasses than I thought wise, so we tried a few with her glasses back on her head too. Although those shots are sharper and feel technically better, I went for the imperfectly focused, reflection blurred glasses shot for the main posting nonetheless. It just feels right - she had tonnes of charisma, and it's better expressed somehow in the first one.

I guess I need to throw a polarizer in my kit bag for glasses in the future. Anymore tips on shooting portraits of subjects with glasses would be welcome!

Anyway - once we'd shot, we all had a look at the pictures on the LCD. Stranger and friends all liked the shots and whooped and wowed a lot. Magic!

Thank you for being Stranger #9 in my project - and I'd love to hear from you if you wanted to add your name! Sorry I forgot to ask!

Have a great weekend everyone.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Alex (Stranger #8/100), London Brick Lane

Via Flickr:
Alex and Alexandra (see shots below in comments) were peacefully watching drmaccon taking street portraits, when xtarsy and I jumped them. Sorry guys! They're a great Italian couple; Alexandra living in London at the moment, and Alex visiting her for the weekend.

Alex had an incredible Canon 50mm f1.2L, so we started chatting about photography. Alexandra was especially interested in the 100 Strangers Project, and was extremely keen to take part. We stepped back into a side alley with some neat urban art for a backdrop.

One of the coolest elements of Sunday was working with the other group members. For a couple of hours Xtarsy traded turns shooting/assisting, and I was lucky enough to be the chap with camera in hand at this point. The light is coming from a 110cm golden reflector, which I purchased having read r c hill's blog post here. I hoped the gold would give a warm punch to compliment the blue artwork behind, but was amazed at how effectively it delivered. Magic!

I'd have happily posted either of these separately, but like the idea that single encounters get a single post. Therefore, I went with Alex for the main shot - just to mix things up after a run of female strangers. I'm really pleased with the shot - not just for the light, but because I feel it catches some of his effortless, rugged cool.

Alex and Alexandra - thanks so much for agreeing to take part, and for putting up with my amateurish rendering of the various Italian proverbs/tongue-twisters with which I attempt to impress all of your countrymen! I really hope you like your pictures. If you get involved in the project it'd be great to hear from you; that 50mm 1.2 must dish out some pretty insane portraits!

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Aya (Stranger #7/100), London Brick Lane

Via Flickr:
Aya came charging down Brick Lane en route to work Sunday, but was kind enough to stop for a photo. She's French working in London and really like the idea of the 100 Strangers Project. We had time to step out into the middle of the road and shoot a couple of shots before she had to race on to start her day.

Aya - thanks do much for saying "yes" despite the time pressure. I hope you made it to work on time and like your picture!

This was at the start of Sunday's 100 Strangers meet on Brick Lane. By the end of the day I'd learnt a tonne, and would have got the reflector out for Aya. I like the smudged brick diagonals in the background on this one, but would maybe now have tried a shot a little closer to them too. Still - that's all with the benefit of hindsight and some great leanings from the group.

Hope everyone's having an amazing week!

Julia (Stranger #6/100), London Brick Lane

Via Flickr:
Today I met up with fellow photographers from the 100 Strangers Project on London's Brick Lane. After an early start and the expected fun and games offered by TFL's weekend upgrade programme, I made it in to enjoy an incredible day shooting street portraits with a fantastic set of people.

Having kicked things off Xtarsy and Bomvu, and after a couple of quick rejections, Julia kindly agreed to become Stranger #6 in my project. She was rocking a pretty bold look, which totally dominated the winter morning. We took a few shots in the middle of the road, with her quickly checking her eyebrows were symmetrical - which they are, on top of being dictionary definition awesome.

I'd intended to shoot everything with eye contact, and there's a neat shot from the session with Julia in the comments, but for the main shot I had to go for this peak across at the other chaps shooting their street portraits.

Julia - thanks for agreeing to be part of the project. I hope you like your shot and have an incredible week ahead of you.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

100 Strangers - Brick Lane - Sunday 3rd Feb 2013

This is a quick post to say "Thank you" to Julia, Aya, Steph, Kristy, Jess, Miguel, Tomo, Shane, Alex, Alexandra, Leila, Michelle, Laura and Amy who all took part in the 100 Strangers Portrait today. It's going to take me a little while to work through everyone's shots, but please do email me at the address on the card we shared and I will send you your best portraits as soon as I have them ready. Thanks again - and have an amazing end to the day!