Week 2 of the 365 Day People Picture Project is now complete! Although I don't feel like I've made significant progress in my photography skills, yet, I've gained a great deal of confidence in my "pitch" and I'm experiencing more unexpected personal improvements. I wasn't as nervous this week as I was last week when approaching strangers to ask if I could take their picture for the project. I've also noticed I've become a little more outgoing even when I don't have the camera with me.
I really noticed a change in myself this morning on my walk/run. I'm always courteous on the trail as I pass other runners and walkers and I always give the obligatory "g'mornin," accompanied with a smile or a nod, but I've actually started to become talkative and inviting of conversation. (this is an accomplishment when you're pushing yourself and you're hot, tired and in pain.) There are several "regulars" who I've been seeing on the trail for the past few years and today, I actually stopped and visited with a few of them. I left the trail this morning having experienced a true sense of "community" that I could have been feeling all along, had I not been so shy. This experience is bringing me out of my shy little shell.
Day 8 - Mary
I stumbled upon a street faire happening in Downtown Vancouver. The event was winding down but there was one booth that was still quite the party. There were kids and toys everywhere. I glanced over and saw Mary. She owns Kazoodles Toys and when I noticed her, she looked like she was having just as much fun as all of the kids who were playing with her toys.
Day 9 - Dog Walker
The photo that I posted on Instagram for day 9 was a better picture but it was just a headshot. I couldn't really call her "dog walker" unless I also showed her dog, Tater. I don't think either of them really wanted the interruption in their walk but they stopped anyway. I had to be quick so they could resume walking. Seeing that Tater's bag was empty, I know that they had to get on their way because Tater needed to take care of his "business".
Day 10 - Donovan
Donovan is an amazing tattoo artist and I've known him for nearly 13 years. We're both each other's client. He orders t-shirts from me, and he's done 2 of my tattoos. I guess you could say that we sell ink to one another. Although we've known each other for over a decade, we talked more (or more in depth) in the few short minutes that I was taking his picture, than we've ever talked before. My focus these past two weeks has been on learning how to connect with each subject. With strangers, I have just a few moments to try to make that connection, or to at least get some sort of read on them in order to find and capture their sparkle. I took a few snaps of Donovan at work about a month ago and those pictures had a completely different feel than this one. Having just shared a few stories with one another, we connected differently than we had in the past and I think this picture was a result. I was able to see a different sparkle.
Day 11 - Charles
I was stopped at a red light when I saw Charles waiting at the bus stop. I pulled my car over to park and then approached him. He was clicking away on his cell phone but he didn't seem at all annoyed when I interrupted him to ask if I could take his picture. When I first noticed him, Charles was concentrating on his phone and probably already thinking about work, but as soon as we started talking, it felt as though I was receiving his full attention. It was interesting to watch him go from looking a little pre-occupied and possibly even anxious, to looking like he was completely present. I asked him if he would like to share a quote and he replied, "oh, I'm not very quotable."
Day 12 - Kay (or possibly, Anne)
This was the fastest shot yet! Again, I spotted Kay (or possibly, Anne) waiting at a bus stop. I pulled over to the side of the road and got out of my car. I realized I had just passed the bus a few moments ago so this was going to be tough. I looked up and the bus was only a couple blocks away. I quickly asked Kay, "is that your bus?" She confirmed, so I told her, "Ok, I'll be quick…" I then explained the project and asked if she would be day #12. I didn't think she would go for it. I could tell she was thinking that there wasn't enough time for this but she agreed so I started snapping away. However, I knew I wasn't getting any nice shots. The bus started moving toward us and all of the sudden, she looked up at me with the sweetest smile in the world, I caught it, thanked her, and then we went on our separate ways. I think the whole interaction lasted just 45 seconds. It happened so quickly that didn't even have time to write her name in my journal. It was a one-syllable name and I thought it would be so easy to remember that I could just write it down as soon as I got to work. Well, I was mistaken. Although I slipped up on her name, her smile is totally unforgettable!
Day 13 - April
April is a cashier at a convenience store and she has to be one of the friendliest cashiers in Portland. Talk about making a connection…you can't go into her store without leaving there in a better mood. Her personality and fancy make-up makes you feel happy and festive. April explained that she started wearing fancy make-up so that her boss would keep her on the graveyard shift where there are fewer customers. Her plan backfired. April's customers love her and her make-up so much, her boss schedules her on one of the busiest shifts and he all but insists she wear her fancy face. I mentioned to April that she could have an excellent side business doing make-up and face painting at parties and events. Talking to April feels like you're talking with an old friend, but the minute I pulled out the camera, I could feel she clammed up. I would do the very same thing if some stranger were taking my picture. Although I was able to get a pretty shot of her make-up, this picture just doesn't accurately convey her pretty personality.
Day 14 - Chandra and Alin
Chandra is a hair stylist and she also just started a beauty blog. She is one of the most talented, passionate, and knowledgable stylists around. She had just finished cutting my hair and we were visiting when her newlywed Husband, Alin, arrived to pick her up from work. He didn't know he was walking right into being day 14.
In theory, this should have been the easiest day of the past two weeks. Aside from them each being very beautiful people, Chandra has done quite a bit of modeling and Alin is a professional photographer. I had all the makings of a perfect photo: no time pressures, two very beautiful people who are also two very lovey newlyweds, one subject is a model, the other is a professional photographer, we had their adorable little yorkie terrier, and what I thought was going to make for a cool background which was the salon logo on the front of the window.
Although I had all of the ingredients to make a beautiful picture, I didn't follow the recipe. I was quite disappointed with myself. I had taken over ten pictures and although I love this picture because of the look in Chandra's attentive eyes, I really expected that I had captured several more beautiful shots. I learned something extremely important from this little shoot with Chandra and Alin. It is possible to take less-than-perfect pictures of extremely beautiful people. I didn't realize it at the time but I half-assed it, thinking I couldn't fail because Chandra and Alin are both very attractive. With all but a few of the other subjects, I was under a great deal of time pressure and had to work hard to get in, find the right angle, find each subject's sparkle, and then capture that sparkle. With Chandra and Alin, we had all the time in the world and those two have more sparkle than glitter but just because your subjects are pretty, doesn't mean you can let them do all of the work. You still have to work hard for your shot. I do love this picture of Chandra and Alin because it touches my heart. I just want to learn how to touch the hearts of others. What I thought was going to make for a super cool background, the logo in the window, actually made for a distraction and I should have noticed that when I was taking the pictures. Alin was so helpful and gave me a few excellent pointers to help with the project. Afterward, I regretted that I hadn't taken the time and switched out to a different lens. Alin was patient and willing to share as much information as I could soak in. I should have been a better sponge. I've seen just a little of Alin's professional work and he's really good. As it was, I did learn from my mistakes. Alin and Chandra have so many lovely photographs of themselves, I'm sure they're just as happy that I was able to learn something from this experience than they would have been had I captured the most perfect photo ever. Chandra and Alin, if you happen to read this - thank you both for being so awesome.
As time goes on, I'm sure my skills will improve. It just takes time and practice. I'm feeling instant gratification on the changes that are occurring in my own head and heart. Learning how to open up to strangers, and to get them to reciprocate, has been a rewarding experience and I know I'm a better person for it. I just need to learn how to capture and share that feeling with you.
Thanks for checking in on week 3! If you'd like to follow along daily, I'm missellanea on Instagram, or you can search for #365daypeoplepictureproject.