How to talk to strangers

KensMrtPedSun1018-7-Edit-EDITED

KensMrtPedSun1018-6-Edit-3-EDITED

Sunday I met my buddy Geoff at Ryerson Balzac’s before we headed off to Pedestrian Sunday at Kensingon Market, the last one of the season. I had a plan to force myself to talk to more strangers than I usually do and convince them to allow me to photograph them. It’s different when you make this a challenge instead of just doing it when the opportunity arises.

The plan was to approach the unapproachable. People who looked like they’d say no, for whatever reason: too beautiful; tough and moody; street people; whomever might seem like they’d have no interest in some stranger making photographs of them.

So I started at Balzac’s by approaching one of the most beautiful women I’ve seen in a long time. Typically I’d be far too shy and afraid of rejection to make the effort with someone like this woman, but now that I’d created this challenge for myself I figured she’d be a great person to start with.

“Excuse me,” I said. “I’m a photographer and I noticed you there and have an idea for a photograph with you.” She seemed agreeable, so I continued. “I need you to put on your toque again (she’d removed it when it entered the cafe) and sip your coffee so that all that’s exposed is your eyes. You’ll look straight on at the camera.” She was totally down with that.

So after I got my staged shot, which I’ll post at a later date, we chatted a bit and I took a couple of other photos, which you can see above. I said something and she laughed and I fired off a shot from the hip to catch her in an unguarded, candid moment. You can see the results in the second photo here.

I think getting comfortable shooting strangers is one of the toughest hurdles to overcome with street/documentary photography. Many people simply avoid it, and you can usually tell by the quality of their photographs. Often the subjects are captured at a comfortable distance, which usually makes for a less engaging photograph. I can usually tell by a person’s photographs if he or she is afraid to approach people or get in close.

The thing is, if you want to make compelling street photographs you have to overcome your fear of getting close in to the action. The best way to do that is to start asking people to pose for you. It takes a lot of effort and a lot of practice but the results will make you a better photographer. You’ll come to appreciate that the majority of people are open to being photographed and that knowledge will (or should) alleviate your stress of raising your camera to your eye when you’re close to your subjects.

I’m thinking to begin running one day workshops for street photography. Part of my lesson plan would be to practice talking to strangers in the street. I’m confident that in one day I can get people to overcome their fears and learn how to engage people. We’ll see.

Advertisements
Posted in art, Autumn, Canada, City, Documentary Photography, Downtown, People, Photojournalism, Portrait Photography, Ryerson School of Imaging, street, Street Photography, Toronto, urban, Urban Photography | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Limited Edition Photography Book

Clip2

So I’m done editing my photos for the upcoming book (first of maybe five). Just starting to design the cover. Here’s a screenshot of it so far. I’m sure it’ll change by the time I’m done. Same with the title and the back cover image.

The 12″ x 12″ 80 page coffee table book will comprise of around 150 black & white photos, divided into a few chapters.

Oh, and you’ll notice “first limited edition” along the bottom of the cover. I’m planning to produce 26 lettered copies (each book will have a lettered and signed limitation page, from A to Z). This limited edition will include two additional pages (four images) plus an 8 x 10 signed print that won’t be in the regular edition.

Once I’ve ordered the 26 limited edition copies I will go in and delete the two additional pages, along with the limitation page. I’ll likely change the cover slightly too. The idea is to make this limited version a very rare item with extras not found in the regular edition.

For this to work I’ll need to sell 20 limited edition copies. I plan to keep six for myself. I’m hoping to be able to offer them for under $100 a piece by ordering the books when Blurb has a 40% off sale going on. The limited edition comes with a signed print as well. Each book will include a different print.

If I ever become famous this book will be worth a small fortune.

I don’t know what shipping will cost across North America, but when the time comes I’ll post the purchase price with shipping included.

If anyone’s interested in a rare, signed first edition copy of my first major book, just let me know in the comments. Thanks.

Posted in art, Black & White Photography, Canada, Chinatown, City, Distillery District, Documentary Photography, Downtown, Dundas Square, Toronto, Financial District, Interior Photography, Kensington Market, Little India, Little Italy, Night Photography, People, Photography News, Photojournalism, Portrait Photography, Protests, Rallies, Marches, Rain, Reflections, Sculptures & Statues, St. Lawrence Market, street, Street Photography, Subway, The Danforth, Toronto, Toronto City Hall, TTC, urban, Urban Photography | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

I got my eye on you

PedSunKensMrt1017-98-Edit-EDITED

I probably already posted this a while back but I’ve edited it again via Silver Effects Pro and also did a crop to 4×3. I think this one’s going to make my upcoming street photography book.

Posted in art, Black & White Photography, Canada, City, Documentary Photography, Downtown, Kensington Market, People, Photojournalism, street, Street Photography, Toronto, urban, Urban Photography | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Going Green

CabbagetwnFest18-208-EDITED

I shot this from the hip at Kensington Market a month or so back. Not often you see someone with grass green hair.

So I did a full on talk/PowerPoint presentation about street photography at my buddy Len’s Street Photography workshop on the weekend. It went very well. I felt rushed but only because I did not want to take up too much time from his workshop. I think it was about 40 minutes long. I’m going to rework the talk/presentation for my own workshops, which I’m hoping to have up and running in the not too distant future. Wish me luck.

Posted in art, Autumn, Canada, City, Documentary Photography, Downtown, Kensington Market, People, Portrait Photography, street, Street Photography, Sunny, Toronto, urban, Urban Photography | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Someone’s having a bad day

YongeFrontBikeCrash-70-EDITED

I’m really drawn to photo journalistic type photography. Whenever I see something newsworthy I get right in there to shoot it. It’s good practice because you have to be very quick and you have to get it from multiple angles so your editors at the newspaper have some choices as to which photo to use with the story. At any moment you can be asked to leave, to go stand on the sidewalk 30 feet away. And I don’t shoot with a zoom anymore so the only way for me to get a tight shot is to get right in there where the action is. In this case the action was pretty much over. There was an ambulance just out of sight where I suspect the bike rider was being treated. Not sure of his/her injuries but since the ambulance was just sitting there I suspect they were minor and the rider was being treated on the scene rather than rushed to the hospital. At least I hope that’s the case.

Posted in art, Autumn, Canada, City, Documentary Photography, Downtown, People, Photojournalism, St. Lawrence Market, street, Street Photography, Toronto, urban, Urban Photography | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“I think I can see god!”

CanadaDayWkend17-746-Edit-EDITED

I like groupings because it’s so difficult to have them work out. What I mean is, when the grouping of random people doesn’t turn into a jumbled mess of confusion and busyness. In this case you have a drummer dressed as a duck, some bible thumpers, a dude trying to see god and an old Asian man walking through the shot oblivious to what’s going on around him. And of course those signs really bring it all together. I consider this one a success. Hope you like it. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Posted in art, Black & White Photography, Canada, City, Documentary Photography, Downtown, Dundas Square, Toronto, People, Photojournalism, street, Street Photography, Summer, Sunny, Toronto, urban, Urban Photography | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

PETA takes a bite out of fir

KensMrtPedSunSept18-410-Edit-EDITED

On my way back to the car from Kensington Market’s Pedestrian Sunday I came across a PETA protest. Their beef this time was the use of fir, which they were trying to bring awareness to. I support this cause but I don’t support annoying car drivers in Toronto’s downtown core. Alienating people who likely support your cause is no way to draw attention to it, in my view.

Anyway, I like how this photo turned out.

About the Crop: I cropped it 16 x 9 for a change. My usual rule is if I do crop the photo in post, my crops have to maintain the original aspect ratio of 3 x 2, or 4 x 3, or 1 x 1. I very rarely use a custom crop and if I do I always try not to set it to some random ratio. Why, you might be wondering? If you limited yourself to only two or three predetermined crop ratios, it makes you think about the composition more when framing your shot. In short, it makes things a little more challenging. Sort of like shooting with prime lenses rather than zooms. Nowadays I enjoy making things a little tougher for me when it comes to my photography.

Hope you like the shot.

Posted in art, Autumn, Black & White Photography, Canada, City, Documentary Photography, Downtown, Dundas Square, Toronto, Panoramic Photography, People, Photojournalism, Protests, Rallies, Marches, street, Street Photography, Toronto, urban, Urban Photography | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Put your sweater on

OpenStreetsGeoff-296-EDITED

Boy this kind of shot only comes around every blue moon for me. The woman walked out of the theatre, her orange sweater half on, just as I was setting up my shot. You’ll notice Mr Dress Up also has his orange sweater about half on, too. That’s one lucky catch, if you ask me. Hope you like it.

Posted in art, Canada, City, Documentary Photography, Downtown, People, Photojournalism, street, Street Photography, Summer, Sunny, Toronto, urban, Urban Photography | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments