The concept is fairly simple - take 100 portraits of people who A) are a complete stranger and B) have been told about the project and given consent. That's it, those are the only rules. Seems easy, right? I agree the concept is not complicated, the difficulty comes in approaching people you've never met and asking permission to not only take a picture, but to take a portrait. Few people are comfortable talking to strangers and even fewer are okay with doing something as intimate as taking a portrait. I belong to that group (unless I've been drinking) and as such, this challenge is not only going to stretch me as a photographer, but also as a person.
I consider the formal start date March 1st and set a personal goal of finishing by December 31st. This gives me 10 months to get 100 pictures, an average of 2-3 per week. This wouldn't be that hard if I went with the law of averages and just asked every random person I met. The problem is I'm not only dealing with my own self-consciousness, I'm also dealing with finding my method. I want everyone I approach to be for a specific reason and you have to do so in a manner in which isn't off-putting or creepy. To take a true portrait, you have to make people feel comfortable and as such, you have to spend a decent amount of time observing to find those who seem open to it. Really it's about learning your subjects and turning what you learn into a great photo (all while stepping outside your comfort zone). I could list a bunch of reasons why I'm doing this, but the last sentence is the largest and most important.
Included below is the first and only picture I've taken for the project. I know I'm already behind the curve; I'm taking comfort in the fact that not only is the first is the hardest, but that it should get easier as time by. I probably won't clog this blog up with 100 pictures, so be sure to check out my Flickr stream or the project page on DirtyMartiniPhoto.com for on-going updates.
Sunday, February 20, 2011
A recent acquisition afforded me an opportunity to try a few new techniques involving off-camera flash. Using the commander/slave combination is definitely a good way to get some great lighting, but it takes some practice to find the best location and still have the slave fire. For the most part I'm pleased with my first foray into this technique, even if I did have to take well over 200 pictures to get a handful I like. It's definitely something I look forward to trying more of in the future.
Saturday, January 29, 2011
I shot this set nearly two years ago. I can't exactly say what took me so long to get them online, but it had something to do with taking a long series of baby steps towards the finished product. I think these photos are somewhat monumental for two reasons. First and foremost, it represents the first time someone close to me (namely my wife) has served as such a purposeful subject. To date, a lot of my work has been detached and calculated but this one feels different... at least to me. The second reason is because this set also represents a departure from the normal habits. Generally speaking, I want to process and post photos as soon as I shoot them so I can cross it off my to do list. I don't like things "hanging over my head" and tend to obsess over making sure they don't. As a symbol of me breaking free of those obsessive tendencies, I take pleasure in the fact it took me so long. The amusing thing about it is I still thoroughly enjoyed removing it from said list.