Portraits of Strangers by Bob Dein
Photographers love to learn new techniques, like post processing wizardry, or how to use flash to freeze Peggy Farren* jumping in the air. But once you get past gear and techniques, what do you want to photograph? There are so many genres of photography, so many ways to use your creative voice to express yourself. What do you want to say? Classic genres include landscape photography, wildlife photography, event photography, and so many others. Well, here's one more you might want to consider, Street Portraiture.
Our faces reflect our thoughts, dreams, emotions, and personality. Our faces are 'us'. Carl Sandberg wrote, “Often the faces speak what words can never say”. What wonderful photographic material! So, I have adopted the genre of Street Portraiture.
I meet strangers on the street and make their portraits, always with permission. This is not to be confused with Street Photography, where most images are candid. My studio is the great outdoors, and the sun the only light source. I endeavor to capture a facial gesture that may be a momentary conduit to the personality.
The camera becomes a tool for meeting people; it is a passport to relationships that would otherwise not occur. The Irish poet, W.B. Yeats wrote, “There are no strangers here; only friends that you haven't yet met.” What a great attitude! In the age of cyberspace and Internet appliances, this project involves face to face personal interaction, always with an introductory handshake - a pressing of the flesh.
Meeting and photographing strangers sounds daunting. It is, at first. OK, it still is sometimes, but I cannot overstate the warm feeling inside after meeting a genuinely nice person, and getting a decent picture. I don't just ask for a picture and leave; the goal is to spend a few minutes with the person and have a brief, meaningful conversation. Of course there some rejections, but you may be surprised at how many people comply, and enjoy the interaction. Roaming the street, I never know who I will meet. Here are a few faces, new friends, who I have met along the way.
If you have an interest, there is a Flickr group, 100 Strangers, that helps photographers get past their fears and into Street Portraiture. I find it inspiring. https://www.flickr.com/groups/100strangers/ Give it a try, who knows who you will meet? Bob Dein www.deinfaces.com https://www.flickr.com/photos/bobdeinphoto/
* Note from Peggy: Since I am being picked on on a regular basis about my "famous" jumping shot, I'll write a blog about it soon!
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