In a surprising turn of events, I ended up with a day off. I looked at the weather forecast and it was predicting rain. How bad can it be I thought? For goodness sake, I am British, a bit of rain won’t be a problem. How wrong I was Dear Readers. Having arrived at Waterloo Station, I headed down the South Bank and the Heavens opened. Not normal, drizzle, easily held at bay by the use of an umbrella, but full on torrential rain, mostly going horizontally because of the high winds.Read More
I was armed with my trusty Fuji X100F, and the Delightful Mr F was shooting on his Fujica STX1n, pushing the heck out of an ISO 3200 Ilford film.Read More
Last week The Delightful Mr F and I went to Edinburgh for a short break. I will admit to being, annoyingly excited about this trip. Firstly, I love Edinburgh, I met the Delightful Mr F when we both worked in Scotland, so it has lovely memories. Secondly, we went on the Caledonian Sleeper Train. This has been on my wish list ever since I read Murder on the Orient Express. I simply couldn't imagine anything cooler than getting on a train in one city, going to sleep and waking up in another.Read More
On Saturday, Fuji X100F in hand, I headed off to meet Brian Lloyd Duckett and the other four students at a cafe in London, close to Trafalgar Square for an all day StreetSnappers street photography course...Read More
Following on from my first trip out to take street portraits in my town, I have been out and about once again. The people of Fleet didn't let me down, either.
First up I met this lovely lady, Face #5 waiting for a bus. She had moved to the town a few years ago and was preparing for her 80th birthday the following weekend. All her family were coming to visit to celebrate with her.
Across the road was Face #6. This gentleman was collecting for the Salvation Army. I had a wonderful chat with him about my grandfather who was also in the Salvation Army. We talked about the choir and how they would be singing in the town at Christmas, so I promised I would keep an eye out for them. He then sent me down the road to his wife, who was also collecting. Again, a lovely chat ensued and portraits were taken.
Finally I spotted a man having a break from work in the sunshine. I approached and explained my project and told him that I would like to take his portrait. He was immediately enthusiastic and suggest that I go over to his shop and shoot there. It turned out he works at the local barber's shop, so in I went and took many photos of the barbers and customers. I asked if I could come back and do some more, so I have held those photos back until I have taken some more so I can release them as a batch.
I think I am over my fear of asking strangers for portraits now. My hands have at least stopped shaking, which is a bonus if you want clear photos!
If you live in Fleet, I hope to see you soon!
Sometimes it is good to do something a little bit different. It stretches the creative muscles and can give you a new way of seeing the world. I am a big fan of the Humans of New York project, where photographer Brandon Stanton set out to take street portraits of 10,000 people living and working in New York. He chats to each person and gets their story before taking their photograph. The results are gorgeous, human, joyful, touching and a reminder of reality.
I will admit it straight off, I am not a natural portrait photographer, but I had been itching for a while to document my home town in some way. This seemed like a good way of capturing the people who live in the area. I mulled this over for several weeks. The idea excited me, but the thought of walking up to complete strangers and being able to make enough of a connection that they would let me take their portrait terrified the living daylights of me. I am not sure what happened, but one Wednesday afternoon, shortly after lunch I was overcome by a strange sense of recklessness/courage and headed out armed with my Fuji XT1. It takes about 15 minutes to walk to the town centre from Fennell Towers and by the time I had reached the high street my bravado and ebbed somewhat. I then spent the next 45 minutes walking up and down trying to muster enough courage to speak to someone.
Finally I found Faces #1 and #2 sat on a bench outside M&S. They looked friendly, and kind, so I reasoned, even if they said no, they weren't likely to punch me in the face. They didn't say no! They looked slightly shocked that I had asked, but were up for it. They were lovely, and gave me much needed confidence to go ahead and ask other people. I don't know who you are, but thank you!
Emboldened, I headed off to find more friendly looking residents of Fleet. Next I chatted to Face #3, a lovely lady who sells jewellery in the shopping centre. She hand makes and mends all sorts of beautiful things. The lighting was shocking*, but I took a portrait to add to the collection. After that it was time to go home, and I was almost back at the gates of Fennell Towers when I met Face #4. This lady was delivering building materials to a house, and was driving one of those big trucks with a crane on the back**. She was rocking a powerful "This Girl Can" vibe, and I desperately wanted to take her photo. I hesitated a little bit as she was working, but decided to ask anyway. We had a little chat, I took the shot and then she went on her way.
I got home feeling pretty good. I had overcome my major fear of taking street portraits, and as an added bonus I had had some lovely conversations with people I would never have met otherwise. Some people said no, fewer than I would have thought, and that was nice it it's own way too. People had the choice, and even when they declined they were nice about it and we had a chat anyway. All in all it was a great experience. I am going to continue to take street portraits, and add them to the gallery on this site. I hope to build up a collection of portraits which represent Fleet and the people that live here.
* Note to self, lighting in shopping centres is horrible...
** It probably has a proper name, does anyone know?