Lately, I was looking through my archive of street photos taken from the past 3 months. As I browsed among the sea of non-keeper shots, I occasionally came across photos where the subject was looking straight at me with a certain disconcerted look. I thought maybe it would be interesting to put these together into an album that shows my share of startled looks and nasty stares when shooting street.
I love shooting in the rain. If it’s a weekend and it’s raining, you’ll probably see me with an umbrella on one hand, and my camera on the other, walking (sometimes running) around Orchard Road taking photos of strangers as they run from one mall to another. Often times, it’s an adrenaline rush for me. As it turns out, the same can be said to the ones on the other side of the lens.
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.
Just recently, I had the opportunity to experience a 3-day intensive photo essay workshop organized by Leica, conducted by famed Magnum photographer, Abbas. I’ve learned about it on short notice, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to meet and learn from a master who’s been doing it for 45 years.
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 :)
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 miss shooting in the rain. It’s been a while since I last walked around in heavy downpour, holding my umbrella on one hand and my camera on the other. I miss it so much that every time rained and I’m stuck in the office, I can’t help but think of all the bad weather shots I’m not shooting. And it frustrated me more that as I excitedly anticipate for the rain in the proceeding weekends, it just never came. Until last week… after a long time, I once again caught the devil’s luck.