100 Strangers Project, Set 9

This next set of portraits is from early January, right after a month-long hiatus in shooting. I was rusty and eager to get back.

Hannah, Stranger 60. She was walking with a big group of friends, so, when I approached, I had to address the whole group. Approaching a large group of people can be tricky. Even if there's only one person whose portrait I want to do, I have to get the whole group on board. They look to one another for approval. If there's one "no", then they're all a "no." This group was a "yes."

Jared, Stranger 61, a visitor from Australia. When I approached him, I was surprised by his accent. I actually had to ask him to repeat himself a couple times because it took a moment for me to catch on.

Leo and Lisa, Strangers 62 and 63, a couple. They're both artists, so they instantly said yes to a portrait. I was especially careful not to over-light anyone with the reflector, as there have been a couple portraits in which my subject was squinting, so when I saw Lisa squinting in the first couple frames, I asked if the light was too much. She made a (slightly inappropriate) joke about her eyes, which I won't repeat here, but it was great. She has a great sense of humor.

Charlotte, Stranger 64. Simply put, I selected her because I thought she was very beautiful. What can I say? I have a bias. I try not to. This is a 100 Strangers Project, not a 100 Pretty Girls Project. But sometimes, it can't be helped. She caught my eye. I told her she looked great. She was flattered.

Unfortunately, I don't think I did a very good job on her portrait. I had her stand with her back to the sun and I used a white reflector to bounce light back to her face. Usually, this is an easy set up for even, flattering light. The light from behind creates a nice-edge light that separates the subject from the background and adds some highlights. However, in the case of someone with curly or wavy hair, the back-light picks up any stray hairs and makes the subject's hair look frizzy.

Somehow, I didn't notice this until much later. I was so focused on lighting Charlotte and getting sharp focus on her eyes, that I didn't see my mistake. (There is a chance, however slight, that I might have been a bit flustered, too). And I didn't shoot enough frames with her. I should've kept going.

But I do have an alternate shot I can show, later. For each subject, I start with a few test shots. Once I figure out where I want them to stand and I get the reflector into place, I'll do a spot meter of the lit side of their face and take a test shot. I get in pretty close and fill the frame with my subjects face, to make spot metering easier. In several cases, interestingly, I have found that my test shots actually end up being pretty good. Sometimes, they're even better than the final shot I end up using on the blog. Maybe it's because I tell my subjects, and myself, that it's just a test, so no one has had a chance yet to get nervous. And I've just gotten over the stress of approaching a stranger. They've just said yes. So I'm feeling pretty good. When all 100 are done and together in one gallery, I plan to go back, pick out some of these tests shots, and upload them here. 

Wrapped up this session with Blair, Stranger 65. The skateboard slung to his backpack (which I cropped out, for some reason), and his dreads, caught me eye. It was a quick shoot. Just two minutes, and we were done. And that was it for this session. I hadn't shot in a month, but I managed to add 6 portraits on my first day back. Not a bad day. 

Back to editing. Only 35 people to go..