I received an email from the Creative Director of an advertising agency based in Boston. They were working on their client’s rebrand and launch of an ad campaign for a new breakthrough diagnostics for women. The objective was to take close-up portraits of women to get the message across different audiences and they referred to my personal project “Portraits of Strangers” as a perfect match for the campaign.
A few years ago, I started the Portraits of Strangers project because of my fascination with faces that just stood out of the crowd – ranging from the exquisitely beautiful to the curiously exceptional.… Read more
I love shooting portraits. It’s always a challenge to photograph a stranger and make that person look natural, relaxed, in the moment… and at the same time account for good light, apt background, and a conducive atmosphere. So when I was commissioned by Standard Chartered to shoot 50 people across Singapore, London, and New York, naturally I was excited and nervous at the same time.
Standard Chartered’s International Graduate Programme is year-long immersive, collaborative, and global experience for the most sought after graduates around the world. They launched their #goodhappenshere campaign to attract the best of the best graduates… and inspire the ones who would have never considered banking as a career.… Read more
Last year, I was working on a personal portrait project called Familiar Faces where I invited people I’ve met here in Singapore, people who have helped me with my photography one way or the other. I was able to photograph a total of 41 awesome people, and I figured one of the best way to present the collection of portraits really was to put them together in one panoramic frame.
The last time I photographed portraits of strangers in the streets was around 3 years ago. Since then, I’ve been busy doing candids, studio shoots, and commissioned work. And as the recent exhibit is wrapping up, I’ve been wanting to go back in the streets and add new faces to the project. Then just recently, Sony Singapore provided me with a Sony A7r on loan for a month to test drive. I figured this was the perfect time to shoot new strangers.
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.
A few months ago, I got a message from Kelly, a project manager of a design agency in San Francisco – Tolleson Design. They were interested in buying a couple of photographs from my Portraits of Strangers set to use for a project they’re doing. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any release forms for any of the portraits, so using it for commercial purposes wasn’t possible. So instead, they commissioned me to create a new set of portraits with the same aesthetic.
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.
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.