My 2014 Portrait Project became what I can only describe as complicated, this was for many reasons. One reason was arranging times when it was a convenient time for both my subject and I to be available for a shoot, it became quite apparent very quickly this was going to be a big issue. The weather also had a big part to play in the timing of shoots and it was too nice or two wet for some of the planned shoots. I also quickly decided shooting planed portraits was not for me. I love to shoot people but in a more candied reportage style, so the whole project started to go downhill from day one. But I decided to continue with the project and just see how it progressed.
If I ended up with just a hand full of images but learnt a lot from my project the whole year’s project would have been worth it. But hardly any progress was made over the first few months, I said to myself over and over again, never again….
Every project I start is for a reason and this project was designed to not only take me out of my comfort zone shooting people I had first met on the Internet, but also shooting people I had not met at all and only ever spoken to via social media. There were a couple of exceptions, an old friend Sam and her husband Chris who approached me at the start of the year. Sam does not like having her photo taken but wanted to step out of her comfort zone and have her portrait taken by me this year. How could I refuse, Chris ended up having his portrait taken as he waited for me to finish shooting Sam, the best part of this story is, Chris has now brought a camera and taken up photography. Looks like Sam will have to get used to having her portrait taken!
One thing I found out very quickly was trying to pin someone down to shoot them at a date and time was almost impossible, this alone made me want to throw the towel in from the start. I love street photography and event photography it’s the spontaneity that gets me excited, I just love it when all the elements of a great shot fall in to place. Trying to get a subject to be in the place they wanted to be, to be shot how they wanted to be shot on the right day at the right time in the right dress, with the right light was almost impossible !
On one occasion I was due to meet my subject at 9am, but after a few Facebook messages and phone calls they did not arrive until 1pm, by this time the light was useless and the planned location was in the wrong direction to the sun and it was pouring with rain. We had to wait for the rain to stop then shoot a new location. By the time we got the shot it was nearly dark. This was a big learning curve for me. Did I want to spend a whole day shooting one subject for my project! The simple answer was NO!
One Lady came all the way from Australia and was very much out of her comfort zone when I shot her image so thank you Linda.
I love all my projects, making each project last a year was a good move, it gives me time to completely hate the whole project and to want to throw in the towel, but when the mojo comes back to then pull yourself out of that hole using the towel as a rope !
I now know I hate shooting planned portraits, I can’t think of anything worse than trying to organise and plan a shoot with people you have not met and may not meet again. I found out the British weather is just as unpredictable as I thought it was. I found out getting people to relax for their portrait was very complicated and required a lot of work, most of the shoot in fact was taken up with getting the subject to relax. I have noticed even with some of the best portraits I have ever seen there is sometimes a look in the eyes of boredom or mind wondering! I have always hated that look, in street I always look for those few seconds before eye contact to try and make the shot.
I was lucky to be able to shoot a couple of my subjects as they worked; this made the whole process much easier. On the whole people are quite hard to work with as subjects, the more creative they are the more difficult this becomes.
Don’t get me wrong some people are great and I would like to say thank you to all the people who have allowed me to shoot them and use their portraits in this project. It was a pleasure to shoot you all and in some cases quite a laugh. Some people I could not shoot and this was more down to both my work commitments and theirs, as well as the distances we would have to travel.
I have learnt quite a lot from my project I can now use in my street and event work, I also have far more confidence in asking random people for a portrait than ever before! I have always been able to ask people for portraits but, not always had the confidence with some types of people at the important times. I won’t let these given moments pass me buy any more. I probably won’t shoot this type of portraits again but if do, I will plan at least a day or half a day for each shoot.
I have also found the Fuji X cameras are just perfect for Portraits, the XPro1 is my favorite, it slows me down and makes me think and also relaxes my subjects a lot more than a huge great DSLR in between my face and theirs. The Fuji X-T1 is also great when you want to speed things up when you can see the subjects mind wondering.
So in the end I managed 14 images, not as many as I thought but more than one a month so not to bad.
So that’s the 2014 project out of the way now for my very exciting 2015 street project…