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Photographing Strangers.

Updated: Jan 5

It's new years eve 2022 & I literally started my day watching walkie talkie youtube videos with different street photographers in New York. Many know me as a portrait photographer but I also enjoy a bit of street photography & also taking portraits of strangers too. Which sparked me to write a blog on photographing strangers! 2023 I intend to share more & not just on a quick insta story!

I take pictures of people all the time & I enjoy connecting with my subjects a lot when taking their portrait. But taking pictures of strangers is something totally different & enjoy that spur of the moment connection. The adrenaline of building the courage to ask a stranger to take their picture & the unpredictability of the outcome is also a kind of rush. Especially when you add a roll of film in to the equation. Then its up to the film gods then too...... eeekkkkk. There is absolutely NO pressure in taking pictures of stranger at all! So its also kind of liberating too.

Sometimes I like to just go out on a wonder & take pictures, and it is something I intend on doing more of in 2023. We can get so consumed with perfection thanks to things like social media so every now & then when I want to ground myself again with my photography I like to just be in the moment & take pictures. And sometimes that will include taking pictures of strangers. If I see someone who's look I like or can sense their vibe, then I will ask. There are times I have been told no & that is OK. I just know not to take it personally & keep it moving. But I remember when I first did it I did get a little offended I am not going to lie. But then you have to remember NO PRESSURE!

I first dabbled in this in late 2020 which taught me that majority of the time people will say yes. I think people are sometimes happy that they are asked & sometimes people are interested in how you are going to capture them.

Some tips I will give to approaching strangers for pictures are -

1. Be friendly approachable. Smile!

2. Ask their name & introduce yourself.

3. Explain what you do & what/why you are doing it. If you are just building your confidence then share that. People like to be a part of it.

4. Ask them questions about themselves & what their plans are for the day.

Majority of the time you will find common ground. Then conversation will flow easily & the person will be more comfortable with you too as you guide them where to stand/pose etc.

5. Exchange instagram or email details so you can send them the pics & tag them if you share.

Taking photographs of strangers in London.

Now London I feel is a far easier city to take pictures of strangers. Which is why I started with London first. I would say if you have never taken photos of strangers before but want to then go to London. There is a lot more option & variety depending on where you are.

I took a day trip to London on Easter Sunday 2022 just for a change of scenery, my sanity to get out of Bristol & purposely to catch the Kehinde Wiley exhibition as that was the last day to catch it whilst it was here. I had the Olympus Mju ii in my bag with a roll of Kodak Portra 400 in with no expectations of the day really. I just knew I wanted to capture the day as I went along. Then through the rustle, bustle & beige exterior of Trafalgar square I noticed this colorful clothed girl across from me just standing out rather than blending in. That was when the photographing strangers began on my day trip.

Jihaan was visiting from Sweden & it was their last day in London before heading back. Her energy was lovely & here family were beautiful.

Then on route to catch Campell Addys exhibition I bumped in to Ash who was here from LA on the european leg of the tour with a band she works with.

Jason who I spotted on the tube as he was heading to the library to study. Jason was a bit hesitant at first but after chatting for a bit he was like fuck it & let me take a couple shots.

Flo who was from Belgium & enjoying London living whilst here.

And on another visit I met Danike on the overground train home from a long day at an assisting job in London. She is a camera op & also likes to shoot film. So the chat just flowed effortlessly as I grabbed a couple of shots on the train.

*shot on Kodak Portra 400 in the Olympus Mju ii P&S & Kodak Tmax 400 in the Canon AE-1*

Bristol captures have also been snapped too. Not leaving out the home city of course!

Another day was around Bristol. I have lived in Bristol for 11 years now & I really struggle to enjoy wondering around with my camera in the city nowadays. I feel like I have exhausted all the areas but then maybe it's just I have lost my connection with the city? I don't know but it is something I will work on again I am sure. On this day I wondered & wondered & nothing or nobody was catching my eye! Until I saw Clarenz by the waterfront just drawing his view opposite him. I was intrigued & liked how he was just in the moment capturing what he was seeing. We got chatting & he told me he was here studying film & that he enjoys drawing in his spare time. It was his form of escapism & that I could connect with. He was using pen & paper. I was using a camera.

Also back in Summer of 2020 I had put a roll of Kodak Gold 200 in to a Pentax Espio 140 I had just bought so was testing it out. One day in town whilst crossing the road I saw Bethany crossing too. So I just asked here if she minded me taking a couple pictures? Her 90's style caught my eye so I had to because the 90's were life!

*shot on Kodak Tmax 400 in the Canon AE-1 & Kodak Gold 200 in the Pentax Espio 140 P&S*

So no matter how daunting it may feel to ask strangers to take their pictures, just know it can be done. If you REALLY want to give it a go then I would say GO FOR IT. Connect with people & the stories will come together. For me everyone I take pictures of it has just come naturally. But I think that is my character anyway so some things just flow naturally for me. BUT I also like to challenge myself to get out of my comfort zone too.

Thanks for taking the time to read, look & hopefully you get inspired to give it a go one day this year if you have not already.

Peace & Blessings to you all. Tasha.

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