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504/600 - Iman (Explore) | by jeffcbowen
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504/600 - Iman (Explore)

My morning photo walk was off to a slow start today. I’m not sure why, but I’ve had a few recent photos which really pleased me and I think I was feeling a bit too picky and cautious about who to approach. I’ve never been one to select only the spectacular characters but like the “slice of life” approach, portraying a wide variety of people and maybe my recent good fortune upset that approach a bit. Mind you, I did have a couple of nice encounters but neither generated a project request (and maybe that’s a good development in its own way).


I was near the Ontario College of Art and Design (OCAD) in Toronto where I have had a few nice encounters with interesting, creative students and decided to head that way for a look-see. On my way I noticed this streetcar turn-around which goes through the ground floor of a building. I liked the light reflecting off the windows, the curve, and the soft light near the sidewalk. If only a suitable person were to appear, but what would “suitable” be? I was turned down by an edgy-looking fellow with a beard who was just finishing his coffee beak and had to get back to his office. He was polite and wished me well with the project.


All of a sudden this striking young woman exited the OCAD door and I approached her without hesitation. Her response was an equally spontaneous “Yes. I’d be glad to help you out.” Meet Iman, a 20 year old third year student at the College in the Environmental Architecture program. I told her of the streetcar turn-around which was now nearly a block away and asked if she had enough time to walk there with me and she said “Sure. I know where you mean and I’m going that direction anyway.” My day had suddenly turned lucky. I used the short walk to give her the details of the project and she knew Flickr and was fine with it.


I demonstrated my portrait idea by standing where I wanted her to be and invited her to put down her cup of coffee and backpack, apologizing that the ground was kind of dirty. She didn’t seem to mind. I switched to spot metering and got to it. The first few photos showed her warm smile and I then invited a neutral expression and switched to manual focus to gain more experience with manual. We were suddenly joined by a somewhat beefy-looking female security guard who informed us that we were near an active streetcar track. She seemed to be concerned about our safety but I think she was also letting us know it was private property. I thanked her for her concern and Iman and I told her we were almost done (and there was no hint of a streetcar anywhere). This was the one last photo we made.


Iman was interested in my camera because she was impressed by the quality of the images on the screen. She is thinking of buying a Nikon camera because she would like to take a photography course in her final year at the College. We talked for a few minutes about cameras.


Iman’s parents are from Somalia but she was born and raised in Canada. I asked if she’d ever visited Somalia and she said she hadn’t. I told her my impression was that it’s not a very safe place to visit these days and perhaps it would be better to not visit until the situation was more stable and safe. I’m not positive about this but I believe it’s true.


Iman was one more example of why I shouldn’t be afraid to approach Muslim women for my project. Some may be uncomfortable with the concept but Iman couldn’t have been sweeter or more willing to help out. Thank you Iman for participating in 100 Strangers. You are now Stranger #504 in Round 6 of my project.


Find out more about the project and see pictures taken by other photographers at the 100 Strangers Flickr Group page


To browse Round 1 of my 100 Strangers project click here:

To browse Round 2 of my 100 Strangers project click here:

To browse Round 3 of my 100 Strangers project click here:

To browse Round 4 of my 100 Strangers project click here:

To browse Round 5 of my 100 Strangers project click here:




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Taken on June 9, 2014