It had been a successful day shooting strangers in Melbourne's CBD with Trish, Rebecca and Johnny (#25–#27) already photographed earlier in the day. Now normally that would be well above my quota for one day of shooting, however as I walked back to my tram stop to head on home, I spotted through a shop window a man with a magnificent beard that I simply could not let pass by – and that man was Tim, officially Stranger #28.
Now before I walked into the store I patiently waited outside until all the customers had left so I wouldn't bother his sales. Upon walking in to the store a smile emerged from within the thick beard of his and greeted me kindly. From their I told him about the project, handed him one of my cards and without hesitation Tim was all prepared to be apart of my series.
Tim works for a store called soleDevotion in Little Collins St, Melbourne. Its the kind of place you go to find those special, beautifully crafted designer shoes that will inspire you and make you look at footwear in a whole new and exciting light. The appreciation and knowledge that Tim displays with his products is really reflected in his calm and soothing approach to his customers. I've actually seen Tim again since this shoot, out the front of his store, helping to give directions to a tourist - he's just that kind of guy. There was also a copy of one of my favourite magazines on his counter top (The Smith Journal), which really summed up Tim's character perfectly I think.
Now conditions for this shot weren't ideal for photography, its was indoors and the light in the store was dull with only a few small LED spotlights to showcase the shoes on the wall. I could of taken the easy route and asked him to step outside into some light on the sidewalk, but I wanted to take his portrait infront of the beautifully arranged displays of shoes on the wall, which would also add a sense of location to the story.
So thats exactly what I did. With a slight bump up on my iso settings and a much slower shutter speed than I would normally use I went ahead and photographed Tim in the ambient light provided in the store. We moved around under the different lights just to get the right balance of shadows and within a few minutes we were done. Immediately when I had seen the results on the back of the camera I knew this was a favourite of mine and I'm very glad it turned out this way.
Tim has worked at soleDevotion for 4 years now, and been in retail for most of his life thus far. He actually really enjoys working in retail and since he was such a relaxing guy to chat with, I'm sure this translates well with the customers. He is born and bred here in Melbourne, loves dogs and has a Staffy Bulldog Terrier named 'Harper' which he adores. Whilst he hasn't officially entered yet, he also claims he would be a real contender in the World beard growing championship :)
So a big thank you to Tim for letting me include him in my photo series, its one of my favourite portraits in the series so far and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did photographing it.