This week we were asked to photograph a perfect stranger. At first we were to take the images without the strangers input, then after take some with their input. As well as taking images we were also asked to gain a personal story belonging to the stranger.
My initial instinct to this task was to photograph someone in a social, probably alcohol fuelled environment. People in such situations can be quite friendly and laidback, so the prospect of taking a photograph of a stranger in such an environment seemed like a good option. So that’s what I went with. I went to the local pub, the Campbell (or Phoenix for fairly newcomers to the city) with two female friends from the course, Emmaline and Caroline, without a camera. I was going to book out a hefty high tech camera from the loan shop but decided otherwise. I felt using a large flashy camera would be too intrusive for a first meeting. You wouldn’t take a camera to a first date would you? Therefore, I used one of my friends IPhone camera. I thought this would make my stranger feel less intimidated and comfortable.
Upon arrival at the Campbell, I found the person I wanted to photograph instantly: a young male with extremely long dreadlocks! Rockin’! The night continued as me and the others went outside with drinks. Outside we got speaking to one of the dread locked guys, male friends, Gary. We spoke about photography, PicBod in particular, as well as the task we had been set this week. Amid conversation I asked, “So who’s the guy with the dreads?” in which he replied, “Oh that’s Joel. He’ll get naked for you!” We then came up with a fairly childish plan but a plan, which would definitely break the ice. Gary dared me (yes dared!) to walk up to Joel quite directly and say: “Hey Joel, your mate says you’d get naked for me and let me take pictures, up for it?” naturally, I did.
We all had a laugh and just got talking about random stuff, as people tend to do when in bars or pubs. Then the task came up. I explained the task and my stranger was more then happy to do it. I took photographs of Joel with his friends, advising him to just relax and look natural, “I can’t look natural when you’re telling me to be!”. Good point. Therefore, I just took images randomly. I didn’t ask him to move from where he was sitting because that’s where I found him. I showed Joel and asked for his input.
“You should have used a better camera! I thought you did photography?” I tried to convince him that I had a valid reason not to use a more high tech camera but Joel maintained that using a Nikon or Canon or “something” would have been “awesome!” The light was very low and Joel thought we should light his face more. Gary offered to use the flash from his phone to light Joel’s face. I took more images. Joel still maintained, “You should have brought a dslr!”
To make my stranger feel more comfortable I spoke throughout the shooting, before and after. I wanted the images to be organic and not over thought. I also had my stranger take images of me, show me how it’s done kind of thing. One of my friends also took photographs of me and my stranger just messing around and talking, me in particular messing around and Joel’s reactions to my beautiful facial expressions.
After we all kind of got tired of taking images I got down to the nitty gritty, give me a personal story time! To make it a little less strange I offered a swap. I said that I’d tell Joel a personal story and then he’d tell me one. “Agreed”. Joel decided to tell me the story behind his ridiculously long dreadlocks. Below are the notes I jotted from the conversation. He appreciated the pen and paper, “I feel like I’m having an interview! Yay!”.
Joel was at a party and bumped into a “hippy chick” with long purple dreadlocks. She saw Joel and offered to dread his hair, “You’d look awesome!”. The hippy chick told him to meet him the very next day in a “forest” better known as Coppet Wood. Joel unfazed by the offer, took up the chance. He met her a Coppet Wood with a 1/8 of weed. They both sat on a tree trunk whilst Joel had his hair dreaded. Joel come to learn that the girl needed practice, “I was 15, she also dipped the dreads in red and blue food colouring just for fun”. After the new hairstyle, Joel returned home, “My mum shat herself”.
I had to leave soon after that conversation as I had work early the next day and it was fast approaching past midnight. I know I sound boring but you know. We swapped numbers and Joel offered to model for me again, “only if you have a better camera”. We spoke today and I may be meeting him later. Interesting.