Stranger #100: Catherine
I was walking along Sloane Street when I noticed a spot in front of some shops where the light appeared to have more colour than the rest of the street. It must have been caused by reflections from the windows. The light was quite dull and flat that day which resulted in a few pictures that I have not chosen to include in the project. But this spot was good so as I was heading towards it I started scanning for an interesting stranger.
That’s when I noticed this beautiful, stylish woman wearing an amazing blue hat walking towards ‘my spot’. She was quite a bit closer to it than I was so I strode out and was almost out of breath when I intercepted her at just the right part. I explained the project and Catherine kindly agreed to pose. I took a couple of pictures and we looked through them. It was quite refreshing that Catherine was objective and not at all self-depreciating about her images. She was clearly comfortable with her look. She was on her way to the Scoop fashion trade show and was clearly in tune with the industry.
So this is my 100th Stranger. It’s been quite a journey.
Before I write further I must ask that if you have a moment, please take a quick look at the whole set and let me know in the comments which 3 are your favourites. I’d be really grateful. I know which ones I like but I have a personal connection to these pictures based on the experience of taking them and I’d love to know what my peers think.
Over 33 weeks I’ve approached and photographed 107 strangers. I’ve had numerous people decline to be photographed but only 3 that were slightly unpleasant about it. I’ve been harassed by only 1 security guard and a policewoman, after sweetly declining to be photographed, pointed out to me that the reason she was standing on that particular street was that there had been a spate of muggings for mobile phones and other ‘expensive items’ on display.
That equates to an average of about 1 stranger picture every 2.3 days. I’ve taken an average of 4.5 pictures per stranger. At no point in this project have I felt a pressure to rush it though there have been occasions where I’ve gone out looking, not found anyone for ages and felt a personal pressure to get something. Usually that was because I’ve bottled out of approaching someone previously in the session. I did feel strongly throughout that I needed to keep some momentum to the project. I’ve had one long break because I was becoming fed up and one due to a family holiday. I’m posting these figures because I like stats!
When I first started this project, I was terrified. I was nervous to approach people, I was nervous that I wouldn’t be able to make a decent picture and I was nervous that I would fail. Now I know with certainty that I can walk out onto a busy street and bag a bunch of decent pictures in almost any conditions. I know far more about how to find attractive lighting conditions, I know how to approach people in a way that is more likely to be successful, I know that it is no problem to me if someone says no. From the first stranger I learned that it is an incredible rush walking up to someone, talking to them and coming away with a photograph of them. It’s awesome!
When I had progressed to the 20th or 30th stranger I entered a bit of a slump. I was fed up with the ‘effort’ of going out and getting the pictures and I felt that 100 was waaay to many to have to take to prove a point. I’m glad I punched through that because it is actually not enough. There’s lots more to learn and lots more fun to be had. I’ve noticed a lot of people who start this project don’t progress past 50. If you’re at that point and feeling the same thing, keep going! The people who can take stranger pictures day in day out are no different to you.
So that brings me to what’s next. I can’t stop now. I have so much more to learn. I want to get better at environmental portraits; I want to improve on full length shots which I struggled with. I took many more than I posted to the group. I need to improve my direction and posing of my subjects. While my pictures are generally of a reasonable standard, there are others on the group whose pictures are just incredible and I want to improve to that standard and then keep on going up.
What I need to decide on is whether to carry on with the same sort of strategy of trying for variety or to focus more on a particular type of picture or subject. I’m still not sure but I am sure that I’m still addicted to this group. I am keen to put more focus into other aspects of photography though now that I’ve achieved the original goal so I would envisage that I won’t post as often but hopefully the standard will continue to improve.
If you’re still reading this tome, thanks for staying with me. I really want to thank a bunch of people:
First and foremost, thanks to all of my strangers. It goes without saying that without you I would not have been able to do this. Throughout this project I have been impressed and surprised by the kindness of people and their willingness to help. I really hope that I’ve been able to provide you with a good picture or a useful anecdote to tell at dinner parties.
Secondly, thanks to everyone in the group who has encouraged me, complimented my pictures and criticised my work. Especially thanks for the criticism. It sometimes stings to have the flaws pointed out but one learns from those so thanks.
Last and not least I’d like to thank the Admins of the group. I don’t know if many people realise how much work they put into this group to make it the special place that it is. I’ve seen people criticise them at times for the way they manage the group but those are few and far between and the rules are clear and comprehensive. I’m a member of a large number of groups on Flickr but I keep coming back to this one and that is thanks to them.
Here’s looking forward to the next 100!