100 Strangers Project, Set 7

After a month-long hiatus, I'm ready to get back to it. 

December was not a good month for shooting or editing. I was at the lab working late pretty much every night. And there was the holidays, other shoots, and even some rainy weather to contend with. 

But things have settled now, and I'm looking forward to continuing this project and hopefully finishing up in the next couple months. 

The photos above are from a "session" in early November. It was the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, the very same Tuesday when museums are free at Balboa Park, so there were a lot of San Diego natives around.

Ricardo, Stranger 41, a musician; he seemed a little suspicious of me at first. Some people think I'm asking for money when I approach for a portrait. And there was also a bit of a language barrier because I approached him and spoke in English. Ricardo spoke English, but he was obviously more comfortable in Spanish, so I switched to Spanish and made my request. That was the first time I've had to do that. I wasn't exactly prepared, but I got through it. My Spanish is certainly good enough, but I'd never practiced my approach in Spanish and I'm aware that to a native Spanish speaker, I may have a slight accent and sound a bit unsophisticated. 

In any case, Ricardo said yes and I got his photo. He might look a bit angry, but he's just naturally squinty, like me. And the bright light early in the day didn't help things. The buildings behind me were bouncing a lot of light our way. Even the white side of the reflector was too much. 

Michele, Stranger 42 (spelled with one "L' not to be confused with Michelle with two "L's", Stranger 46), a fellow photographer. She does mostly sports. When I showed her the portrait I had just made of her, she said: "You're good! I don't ever like photos of myself, but I like this one." We exchanged cards at the end. 

Joe, Stranger 43, a very quiet and easygoing man, making his portrait was easy. 

Sonia, Stranger 44, and Michelle, Stranger 46, friends, and students. I got Sonia's portrait as she was walking up towards the big fountain, and on her way back, she was with Michelle, and since I'd just photographed Sonia, I was sure her friend would agree to a portrait. 

For Sonia's portrait, I might have gone a little overboard with the edge light on the left. It's probably better reserved for a more dramatic portrait. Her portrait needed softer light.

For Michelle's portrait, I struggled to figure out lighting. It just happens with some subjects; it takes more time and more clicks of the shutter to get it right. In this case, it was 45 clicks. With other subjects, I've taken as few as 3 shots and called it done. Michelle was patient and allowed me to keep shooting, and I'm glad she did because I like this portrait. It's probably the most tightly cropped one that I have so far. Initially, I picked out a wider shot, and just as I was about to upload, I realized the tighter crop made a lot more sense for her. She has beautiful eyes and that was lost in the wider shot. 

Chandrika, Stranger 45, a Tarot card reader and psychic at Balboa Park. Before I could shoot, she had to freshen-up her makeup. All it took was some purple lipstick and she was portrait-ready. She was fun and energetic and pleasure to photograph. 

Chelsea and Cali, Strangers 47 and 48, artists. I found them sketching by the fountain. Artists seem to appreciate what I'm trying to do with my 100 Strangers Project, so they are always game to participate. 

Olivia, Stranger 49. It was late in the day, and the edge light wasn't quite as intense as Sonia's portrait,  so it worked a little better. Still, it may be too much. Her face called for a slightly softer light, and so I should have shot it that way. I might have also over-lit her with the reflector. Looking through the photos of Olivia, there are several where she's squinting 

Lucas, Stranger 50. By this time, the sun had gone down, and the available light was fading fast. I ended up with a very flat portrait. If I had gotten to him just 10 or 15 minutes earlier, I could've done a better job. 

So that's it for this set. There were definitely some glitches and some lessons learned here: hard edge light doesn't work for some subjects, and some people have sensitive eyes and squint even with the white reflector. I didn't catch it this time because it's not so noticeable through the viewfinder, so I have to remember to take my eye away from the camera and look to see if the light is too much for them.