Portrait Perfection


Had a very successful day down at the Kensington Market. It was pedestrian Sunday, meaning the roads were closed and there was far more going on than usual. Anyway, don’t mistake my name for this portrait as to suggest I think I took the “perfect” shot. I’m actually speaking of my model. I forgot to ask her name, I’m afraid. Anyway, me and the gang stopped at this little joint we often end up at called Burger Bar. I’ve shot a few people there in the past, actually. So in walks this lovely young woman and I knew right away she’d make an excellent model. Her dress was the perfect colour for her skin tone and it worked great with the background where she and her friends sat to eat. I was a tad nervous to bother them at the table, but my buddy, Nisarg, encouraged me to go. The lady was kind enough to let me snap her photo. Just by the way she tilted her head I knew right away this wasn’t the first time she’d posed. Oddly, the shot isn’t as sharp as I’d liked. I shot it at 1/30th of a second, which is always fast enough for me to hand hold, but maybe being nervous I shook a little, I don’t know. It’s just not tack sharp, but it’s close and it’s still one of my favourites from today. Also, I notice on my second, older monitor (I have two monitors, one high end and the other an older standard one) the photo doesn’t look at good as on my good monitor. I always worry that y’all might not be seeing the same thing I’m seeing on my primary monitor. Hope it looks as good for you as it does for me.

On a personal note, I’m freakin’ sick again! Picked up a cold, probably from work. Felt okay today but feeling like crap now. Oh well. I don’t think I’m going to go to work tomorrow. I want to see my doctor again but sorting out that referral I mentioned.

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11 Responses to Portrait Perfection

  1. astrawally says:

    It’s perfection for me. All the elements combine and work extremely well here! I hope you get better soon.

  2. sayvan says:

    So I am curious… when you take these “portraits” of people, how do you get them to play along? I mean after all, we are all taught not to talk to strangers, especially those with a camera… Seriously however, what do you say? Do you hand them a card? Send them to you blog? Just curious as I like the idea and want to try it out minus a punch or being called a creep!

    • sayvan says:

      Oh… and that is a great shot, she was a natural..

      • Funny story. When I first starting taking photos I used to wait until people were out of my shot, sort of like I usually do now with vehicles. But as I got into it further I realized I had to include people and at times that would involve talking to them to get them to pose. I kept seeing beautiful and/or interesting looking people and thinking, I wish I had the courage to take their photo.

        I started with homeless people. It was pretty easy and almost always a success. They ask for money, I instead offer to buy a photo. Then one day I stopped and talked to a group of three street people, guys. I asked if I could photograph them and they said sure. They actually hammed it up for the photo and it ended up being one of my favourites. You can check it out here. Anyway, I was sooo thrilled with that shot and that success, I started asking more people, not many, just a few.

        One day I’m out shooting with a friend, who is also terribly shy, and we get talking about talking to strangers and photographing them. He says for him this is impossible. I argue that he’s not approaching it right. For instance, I say, lets walk through Dundas Square and I’ll ask ten people for their photograph. But, I say, the objective isn’t to get them to say yes, but to say no. If we get ten nos, then that’s a success. Each yes is actually a failure. Sort of reverse psychology. I expected to get maybe 7 or 8 nos and 2 or 3 yeses. But the bigger picture wasn’t about getting nos, but getting our heads around rejection. Take the rejection as a success instead of a failure. You know what happened? Every person I asked said yes! I couldn’t believe it. Blew my plan right out of the water, in a good way. He was amazed, too.

        Since then I have practised and practised getting over my shyness and now I have no fear of rejection. They say no and i move on, that simple.

        In the case of the girl above, and the half dozen others I photographed yesterday, I simple said: Excuse me, I know this might sound a bit odd, but would you mind if I take your photograph. The colour of your dress works do well with your skin tone and the background. She sort of hummed and hawed a bit. Her friend asked, How much? I said, Well, usually I charge hundreds of dollars but in this case will do it for free. They got a laugh out of that. Finally, I said, How about I take your photo and if you’re not happy with it I’ll simply delete it from the card. She said, Sure, and that was it.

        When I post the other portraits from yesterday — I think there’s maybe 6 to 8 of them — I’ll talk about what I said to get them to pose.

        Consider this: In one of his books on writing, Stephen King said that he’s always perplexed when at some dinner party or function a fan will approach him and say, I wish I could write. Unless you’re illiterate, he says, anyone can write. Just do it, and do it often, and you’ll be surprised at how soon you’re writing at a much higher level than when you started. It’s all about practice. Well, it’s the same with portrait photography of strangers. It just comes down to trial and error. But if you don’t practice you will never figure out for yourself what works and what doesn’t, right? Also, you’ll get really good at recognizing the types of people who will say no versus the type who might say yes. I can usually tell right away.

        Sorry for a looong story. Hope that answers your question.

  3. this is lovely, and didn’t seem out of focus to me. all the elements work so well together.

  4. the wuc says:

    Love this. The muted colours, the compartments and spaces working together, her expression and ordinary beauty. Ordinary in the unadorned sense. She’s lovely. Great photo, Lazy.

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