About a month ago, Photogen.lu had challenged its members to take part in a ‘street battle’. The purpose of the get-together in Luxembourg City was to roam the city centre and take photographs of the people there, then meet up again and share images and experiences. Most of the photographers went for the candid approach, in which you photograph scenes happening in the streets where people are not aware of being photographed. I decided to do the opposite and approach people directly.
I think it’s easier to decide on a target group. If you can photograph anybody, you’re likely to end up not being able to decide who to approach. If fewer people meet your arbitrary criteria, it’s easier to pick somebody from the masses. In this case, I focused on people with greying hair.
I had a memorable exchange from the workshop in Arles in mind that day. I had asked Serge Picard how I could make my subjects feel more comfortable. He answered: ‘Why on earth would you want them to feel comfortable?’. My goal for the day then was to get out of my own comfort zone by approaching complete strangers and getting them out of their own comfort zone in the process. I went around addressing people, briefly told them that my photography club had given me a mission and asked if I could take their portrait. If they agreed, I first took a regular close-up portrait. Having a camera with a ring-light pointed at your face can be a bit intimidating, so I didn’t want to come straight to the point. The photo I was after was one of my subjects pulling their favourite face. Once a person has agreed to having their portrait taken, the first picture is just a means of breaking down a barrier. After that, it’s much easier to persuade your subject to do something silly or unusual.
In case you’re wondering why there are only men in the gallery: none of the women I asked for a portrait agreed!
I hang around on the internet so much and browse so many photography forums, websites and blogs that I stumble across a lot of interesting photo-related stuff. Here are some cool pages that I discovered recently that you may enjoy:
- DIY Gary Fong Lightsphere. The Lightsphere is a popular (in my opinion overrated) but expensive light modifier. Make your own by following Artur Gajewski’s guide on instructables.
- RGB Music Lab. Ever wanted to know what your photos would sound like? Feed them to this freeware Mac/Win software to find out.
- What camera should I buy? This question pops up in forums all the time. The ones who ask them usually don’t give any information on what kind of camera they’re looking for. Read through Scott Bourne’s article and you can probably find the right camera yourself or help others help you.
- Studio Lighting Techniques. Addicted to Life shows some cool studio setups to build upon and experiment with.
- Possible World Record. A Canon EOS Rebel XT falls 3000ft from the sky and survives.
- Classic Portraiture. Joe Zeltsman has written an in depth guide on posing people for portraits.
These are some photographs that I took during the portraiture workshop in Arles that didn't make it into the exhibition, either because they did not fit the style of the series or because they were from the first two days when I was just experimenting a bit.
Singer, actor and musical director Jean Carlos Lopez met me in town for a shooting on an overcast afternoon. Locations in Canterbury included Westgate, the Westgate gardens, Greyfriars, High Street, and the Cathedral.