Stranger Portrait


I often see people and think that I’d like to take their portrait. It sounds creepy in my head as I write that but I promise it’s a fairly widespread idea. I just happen to think certain people look interesting but I don’t ever do anything about it. I worry my social skills are not up to it. I’m not a good first impression kind of guy in a lot of ways. There are many reasons. My neutral face frightens people. I tend to be reserved. As a kid who moved a lot, I had two choices become outgoing and gregarious or do the opposite. I chose the latter.

But you see a photo at the top of this post. A photo I took of a stranger. That may not seem like a big deal to many of you but it took some serious psyching up for me to do that. It’s not the best picture but it does represent something I’m glad I did.

That’s the interesting thing here. The #ds106 course gave me the structure to make some assignments and one I put up there was the stranger portrait photography assignment (visualassignment29). I had been thinking about it for a while. Once I wrote it down, it kept coming back to me. I couldn’t make an assignment for someone else that I was too scared to do. It took some time, but I finally decided to do it this morning. I wouldn’t have gotten an F had I not done. I mean, I created the assignment AND I gave it to myself. There was no force compelling me to step into a place where I wasn’t comfortable. I couldn’t talk about learning in the open and trying new things if I didn’t do something I was truly scared to do.

5 thoughts on “Stranger Portrait

  1. I bump Cali4beach’s question, and what’s more, I really like this photo. The woman has a fascinating face, she seems quite strong, and her yellow shirt is mesmerizing to me. You captured something here as well as negotiating some real personal discomfort.

    Bravo! But you still get an F.

    Your teacher and godhead,
    the bava

    1. Cali4beach – I think I said something like “Excuse me, I wonder if I might ask you a favor. I’m taking a photography course and one of the assignments is to take the portrait of a stranger. Would you mind if I take your picture? No pressure or anything. Don’t feel obligated.” So, I sort of lied but not entirely. It’s a voluntary digital storytelling course and I made my own assignment.

      I think she’s a cool looking lady. She’s really polite and nice. My focus is off and the light is crummy but you can’t expect much for gas station lighting.

      Bavinator – Your “F” always spells fantastic to me. I live just to read your comments.

  2. I love this idea, not just because of the photos you will get, but because I think it is important as a photographer to build up the confidence to communicate with people.

    In such an image rich world, it is strange to think how uncomfortable we are on both sides of the lens when it comes to connecting and capturing images. Have a lot more to say on the subject, but we will get to that soon enough.

    I look forward to doing a few of these too, but it is even more challenging for me as I have a cultural and language barrier to overcome as well.

  3. That’s an interesting concept; taking pics of strangers. A lot of people do have faces “with a story to tell”. I am sure it takes a lot of courage to do so as some people might be spooked out by a stranger taking photos of them. Honestly, I would probably be one of those folks and think you were a bit nuts if you started taking pics of me. My first instinct would be to run away. lol

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