Last week in my New Years post, I spoke about a couple of things…
One how my computer was broken and two, my desire to take (so called) “Street Portraits” in 2017
Well, I’m pleased to say that it looks like I’ve fixed the computer 🙂
And I’ve also got some more street portraits to share (taken before NYE though)!
Last time out, I showed you this one:
And it might be my best effort to date! I love the light of life in her eyes, framed by a face that’s lived.
But this was about my 4th attempt at a street portrait; so let’s take this back to the very first go shall we?
Perusing one of my regular locations for a bit of “street” I turned down the proverbial (and literal) dark alley way, where upon I saw these guys playing cards in the street.
I’m going to be 100% honest here, my initial thought was uh-oh… am I going to have a problem
The quartet stopped and looked at me in unison..
“Hey English man, hey English man* take our photo”
(*how do they ALWAYS know, am I wearing my passport as a name badge or something?!!)
Happy to oblige, they posed I snapped, I showed them the shot and was on my way.
It was quite exciting… And yes – I did reprimand myself for judging a book by its cover!!
Here they are:
Empowered and emboldened I thought, I should actually ASK people to take their photo, street portraiture is a “thing” and it’s a logical step for me, after my street/documentary personal projects.
About 300 meters later, I found 3 old ladies, wrapped up warm (Portugal has winter too y’know!! 😉 )
So I asked to take their picture, using the universal language of mime (don’t ask how badly my Portuguese lessons are going)
They seemed a little flattered and highly amused at this idea and were happy to oblige.
Some of my Portuguese friends have commented that these ladies are ‘the true face of Porto’
I consider that a valuable image to capture.
The next day, I went out with street portraiture very much in mind, and I knew exactly where I wanted to go.. The old market in town.
My first request was granted, and I got this shot
Those hands have seen a LOT of work and toil.
This next one is a lady selling socks outside of the market.
I didn’t need any socks, but she was happy to let me have a shot and she has a genuine look of warmth to her face.
Moving on with my day, I found this chap. He was probably the most patient guy ever! He spoke some English and kept asking if I’d finished; ‘no there’s someone standing behind you’ I’d say – ok no probable take your time he’d reply.
A cool dude!
I visited the Sao Bento railway station (you’ve had a few shots from me taken there!!) and outside there was a lady selling hot chestnuts, her loud voice bouncing out like shock waves, she announced to all in ear shot (and possibly those outside of visual range 🙂 ) what she had to sell as she simultaneously and forcibly churned the chestnuts cooking in front of her.
I didn’t expect her to say yes.. finding a moment when she didn’t have a customer was hard enough.
But not only did I get a shot, I got a smile. I won’t speculate or read into this smile… But I liked it.
So there we have it. Real people. Real lives. Momentarily inter spliced with mine as I forced our paths to cross.
Now at this point, I should probably wheel out the rhetoric about how the X-Pro2 (same truth with the X-Pro1) is such a great camera for this type of activity. I don’t doubt it, but equally it’s not like I also had some hulking DSLR with me in order to do a comparison!
The cover shot has an anecdote worth sharing about why I think the X-Pro series makes great street portrait cameras.
I saw a couple of teens, clearly quite into each other, sitting on a bench in the Railway station, but I didn’t want to take a creepy spy shot of some “kids” (sic) nor *ahem* interrupt them to ask (for a shot) so I walked on by.
Passing by them a short while later, I saw they’d been joined by another couple, so I asked if I could take a group shot, which with some hesitancy, they agreed too.
Once the girl in the centre saw the camera though, she became very interested and curious, and keen to have a closer look. Y’see… with one exception (or 2 if you count the X100 range) the X-Pro range doesn’t really look like anything else that’s out there… This makes it a conversation piece and suddenly a bizarre request from a stranger for a photograph, becomes a pseudo transaction… “of course you can take a look at my camera, yes that’s right that dial controls shutter speed; so how about that photo guys, are we cool with that?”
So I think that maybe that’s going to be the charm of using this camera as a tool for this particular project, not because it’s smaller or lighter than a DSLR, no – because it’s unusual and people find it interesting.
I took the shot, showed them on the LCD (something I’ve done with all my street portraits so far) and they seemed impressed; the feedback was (and I quote) Man, that’s dope
Emails were exchanged, I’ve some new ‘young and hip’ followers on Instagram and of course I sent them a digital copy of the shot.
And I’m left wondering if this is not the true fruit and ‘profit’ of Street Portraiture, sure you get to shoot people in situ, people that catch your eye, people that have interesting faces and are unlikely to smile like an awkward 5 year old; but more than that you get to engage and converse with real people, living their very real lives.
Now I appreciate this is NOT true street photography in it’s purest sense. But this is exciting and (to me at least) new, not only might street portraiture increase the human element in my work, but just possibly in my life as well.
Many wonderful things have started with a conversation; and what can be a more exciting as a prospect, than a conversation with a stranger?
It’s my intention to continue with this project. After all – who knows who I’ll meet and what we’ll talk about.
What are your projects for 2017?
Comment below, drop me a line – let me know, perhaps we can collaborate.
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