Project 52, Assignment #2 Photograph a Stranger
Assignment two at project52.org was to photograph a stranger. I must say this particular assignment was an eyeopener.
I am sure that any photographer, professional or amateur, has suffered from some form of “photography-block” – including me. No inspiration, no motivation and the list goes on and on and then come all the excuses as to why you cannot take any “great” images.
Let me tell you, participating in a photography project will definitely help open your photographic eye, especially if your are not shooting on a regular basis
The assignment of photographing a total stranger was very liberating. At first I had no idea where to go, what gear to take and who to ask to photograph. But then I said to myself “screw it” and I put the 50mm prime on my camera, grabbed my smallest reflector disc (32 inch) and jumped into my car and started to drive.
Not really having a plan as to where to go I ended up at a park near my house and decided to get out of the car to look around and see whom I could ask to photograph – and there I saw this frail and elderly slow-walking man walking with a cane. I nervously approached him and asked him if I could have a moment of his time. Explaining my assignment to him, without hesitation he agreed to let me photograph him and take his portrait. And then there it was, a moment hard to describe – but it was a special moment, looking through the viewfinder, seeing a simple man who has probably endured a lot of pain, seemed full of wisdom and hope and perseverance.
At first I kept focusing only on his face wanting to just take a tight head shot but then I noticed the long shadows cast by him and some street lamps intersecting the path. Instead of waisting time trying to get this stranger into a pose I simply moved around to find a frame – The only words of instrucions from me were “Just be yourself…”
Hard to explain, but it simply clicked and I thought i just captured “it”.
After I took this picture, José told me that he was staying with his daughter and he had to stay close to his house in case there was an emergency. Jose just had a stroke about three months ago and his doctor told him that it was good for him to go on short walks.
I asked him if he would like a print of the photograph I took, but he said: “No – that’s o.k.” Then I thanked him for his time and we parted ways. This all took place in less than 2 minuts.
After the encounter with José I strolled a little bit longer around in the park and photographed three more strangers.
Wow, this assignment was quite liberating and a profound experience.
Now I know what Don Giannatti meant when he said;
Photographing someone you don’t know can be a scary proposition for many of us. I am fairly shy, or at least not that comfortable with walking up to someone and striking up a conversation. I usually will not do that.
UNLESS… I have my camera around my neck or in my hand. When I am ‘a photographer’ I can easily and without hesitation walk up to people and ask to make their picture. I do it a lot, actually.
Here is what I took away from Assignment Two, Photographing a Stranger:
Assignment two very well could be the holy grail to overcoming lack of inspiration, lack of creativity and/or motivation – at least for me.