One of the images that are on display in the Don’t Smile exhibit is a collage of 105 non-smiling faces, all of which were photographed through a studio setup in tcc in a span of 3 Saturdays. This involved an open call for faces… and all they had to do was look in the camera and don’t smile.
One of my dream projects when I started my interest in portrait photography was to shoot different people in different parts of Singapore. It was one of those ideas that I had at the back of my mind that I wanted to eventually pursue as a personal project. Fortunately, I got to do exactly that on a commissioned shoot.
Stranger #77 was one of the most strikingly beautiful face I’ve photographed in my Portraits of Strangers project. So when I decided to do this “Strangers Revisited” project, she was an obvious choice. And when Atika agreed to do a photo shoot with me, I was so ecstatic yet pretty nervous at the same time.
I’ve always wanted to dive into portraiture, and my previous Portraits of Strangers project served as my personal transition from candid street shooting to portraiture. Looking back at project, I later decided to create a new series of photo shoots by revisiting some of the strangers I photographed. Thanks to my facebook page, I was able to contact some of them.
Photo above taken by photography hobbyist Paulo Legaspi
About a month ago, I was invited by street photographer Eric Kim to be a guest writer for his blog. He wanted me to write a few tips on shooting street portraits. Although I’ve already blogged about my thoughts and experiences while working on my Portraits of Strangers project, I haven’t really provided any direct tips on how to work on a project like this. So I started writing down a few quick tips based on what worked for me. I’d like to share this article with you guys. Hope this helps :)
While I was working on my Portraits of Strangers project last year, I got an email with the subject: “Hey there… a mail from Ad-Land in Singapore.” Much to my surprise, the email was from Steve Elrick, Regional Executive Creative Director of BBH Asia Pacific. He came across my portraits series from a link in Facebook which lead back to my blog. He asked if I could drop by to have a chat and “see if there’s a project we could perhaps get you involved with in the future.”
I went “holy sh*t…”
Every time I’m out in the streets, I would often encounter faces that make me look twice… faces that just stood out of the crowd without even trying… faces that are by no means ordinary. They range from the exquisitely beautiful to the strangely wonderful. Sometimes I would try to steal a shot without being too intrusive, most times I just stand there wishing I had the balls to just approach them and ask for their portrait. Thanks to my lucky stars … I eventually grew those balls to do so.
I was walking along Orchard when I saw her walking towards my direction. She was wearing a simple one-piece dress, and was quite tall almost towering over most of the people around her. I wasn’t decided yet if I wanted to shoot her, but as I got closer, I knew I had to – she had this subtle angelic charm. My heart started to pound… it always does whenever I’m about to approach a stranger for their portrait. I stopped her and asked if I could take her picture. She smiled and said "Oh, street style." I chuckled a "yeah…", relieved that she understood what I was doing.… Read more
I was looking forward to shooting a lot of portraits of strangers in the 3-day weekend we just had here in Singapore. But due to time constraints brought about by personal chores, I wasn’t able to go out on my usual 3-hour jaunts of just wandering around and looking for great faces. Instead, I just had an hour of shooting last Friday, and another hour last Saturday – and after the long weekend, I only got one portrait. I was initially glum about it. But looking at this portrait, of the 65 strangers I’ve photographed so far, I think it’s one of my favorites – and made me feel better about the weekend that just passed by :)