I love macro photography, and always will. It’s a joy to go out into nature and find things that many people overlook and bring them to my viewers. It’s a unique technical challenge to take close ups of insects and other creatures and render them in a way that shows how beautiful they really are. But for the past several months I have been drawn in other directions.
This past summer I began to study and practice street photography. It’s all about capturing the world of humans around me as they go about their daily lives and interact with each other. I was beginning to tire of photographing the same butterflies over and over again and was starting to appreciate the endless variety that the human face can represent.
But in the suburban community I live in, there is not much of a street scene, so to speak. It’s not a dense urban area, like Miami or parts of Fort Lauderdale. There are a lot of parks and areas for macro exploration, for which I have been grateful. I was starting to become frustrated in finding new subjects to turn my attention towards.
A couple of months ago, I discovered the 100 Strangers Group on Flickr. It’s a popular project that centers around asking strangers for their portrait and permission to put it online. I’m not going to go into a lot of detail about it here, it’s been written about on Flickr and recently on the Digital Photography School website. Below is my write up on the above image on my Flickr account.
I encountered this gentleman at a car show near my home in South Florida. He was sitting comfortably in a folding chair in front of his pride and joy, a 1954 Buick Super.
I have photographed strangers before, but I was a bit nervous about starting this project. I’ve been battling my own thinking, of what if I’m disturbing someone, taking away from something they want to do? And of course the fear of rejection comes into play…
had seen this man before at the car shows, but could not get up the courage to approach him. When I saw him tonight I knew this was the time and place to start this project.
He was extremely agreeable about having his picture taken for the project. He straightened himself up in his chair, and probably would have stood up if I had asked him. As it was sundown and the light was changing rapidly, I decided to keep him seated in front of the car.
I just got a 85mm f1.8 lens a week ago and have practiced a bit on friends and family. The shallow DOF at f1.8 is definitely a challenge to work with. I started taking shots of him wide open.
After several images, I got concerned about my focus, and decided to stop the lens down to f4. I knew this would give me enough depth of field to have his entire face in focus.
I also started to joke with him a bit, and one point asked him to think about his Buick as I took his picture. This struck a chord with him and brought the natural, happy expression to his face that I was hoping for.
We talked for a bit and he shared some personal information that I don’t care to publish here. It’s sufficient to say that I made a new friend and walked away in a state of feeling greatly uplifted at starting this project on such a positive note. He was the first stranger and the first to say yes.
As I walked away I realized it would have been better if I had stopped down the lens even more and gotten more of this great classic car in the background. If I shoot more at the car show I’ll keep this in mind.
End of write-up. This was an extremely uplifting experience that has filled me with enthusiasm for pursuing this project whole-heartedly. Below are some images from the car show of this beautiful automobile.