Project 52: Portrait of a Stranger
So a couple of weeks ago, I kicked off Project 52 PRO – a year of critiqued professional level photography assignments, with ace commercial photographer Don Giannatti (although Project 52 PRO is no closed, you can always sign up any time for the free version Project 52).
The first assignment was a tricky one for me. We had to make a portrait of a stranger – someone we’d never met before, even someone we’d just approached in the street with our cameras. And they had to be aware that we were taking the shot and be participating in it, no candids allowed.
It was difficult for me, not because I’m particularly nervous about approaching people, but because I have very little interest in actually making portraits and hardly ever do anything other than the odd snap of the Minx. There’s a pressure to people shots which doesn’t exist with still life or landscapes – you want to create something interesting and hopefully beautiful, but you can’t push people, especially strangers. around like you can with food.
I cheated a bit with my first portrait by posting on here and on the Seattle Bloggers’ Unite Facebook page, to see if I could find a willing victim er, client.
First out of the blocks was the gorgeous Inward Facing Girl Melanie Antley Biehle. I’d been wanting to meet her for a long time, so it was no hardship at all to arrange a meeting in a local coffee shop which I knew had pretty light. (Go read her blog – it’s excellent and thought-provoking).
It did feel like I was breaking the spirit of the assignment a bit though. I’d followed Melanie via her blog and on Facebook and she really did seem like a friend, even though we’d never actually technically met.
So I decided to challenge myself to just walk into local shops, and see if I could find someone willing to pose for me. I struck gold in our beautiful local stationery and paper Paper Delights, where the very pretty assistant agreed to pose for me in between serving people buying Valentines’ cards, and where the window displays and light were made for photography. We managed to put this shot together in about five minutes.
I ended up submitting the Melanie shot, because I found her wistful expression gazing out of the window to be more intriguing; though I’m prouder of the Girl in the Shop as I had to screw up my courage to ask her and had a much shorter time to get the shot.
Which shot do you prefer? Do you prefer portraits where the subject is looking away or one where they’re engaged and looking at the camera?
Thanks to everyone who emailed me offering to help. I’m sure there will be many more chances to be my photographic victims as the year progresses.