Street portraiture is a hit or miss affair. Either your subject is comfortable and willing to proceed or they’re not, and in the latter case why would a complete stranger persuade you otherwise? Yes, there are probably some silver-tongued charmers out there who would push just to get the picture, but underlying my approach is a longer term view. If my subject is happy with the process (and the eventual outcome) then they might just come back to me when they need a photographer in future.
Today’s subject is a bit different. I’ve known her for a few years because she is a colleague of my hairdresser, so not a close relationship but the ice has long been broken. She’s an obvious choice for a beauty portrait for her dark hair (of whatever hue she chooses this month!) frames a pair of brown eyes so dark and sparkling that they are like highly polished precious stones.
Clearly I had to include her in this portrait a day project, but here is the challenge. She really doesn’t enjoy having her photograph taken.
This is a common feeling, but unlike working with complete strangers I’ve been able to plant the seed in good time, suggesting that I photograph her the next time I was in for a haircut. Her colleague Julie added her backing so there was no backing out.
Last Friday the day arrived, and I took her to the rear of the premises to shade her from the harsh light, and thinking that she might feel less self-conscious away from Julie. There’s a lesson here for those who feel uncomfortable with being photographed – trust the photographer! Although uncomfortable with the process she followed my directions until she spotted Julie at the window at which point the nervousness erupted into laughter.
In all I shot 7 version of the same pose within a couple of minutes. Hopefully not too much of a hardship for her. Joking in the salon later, she was able to see the funny side, and we talked about suitable titles for today’s blog; “a little bit special” or “precious”, not out of any vanity on her part, but because her name is Jade, so it was the highly prized ornamental stone that we were talking about. (Actually stones would be a better noun, since there are actually two geologically different rocks that were assumed for centuries to be variations of the same green material).
So was the moment of discomfort worth it? Ultimately Jade must be the judge but I’m very happy with the result. Her eyes may not be jade green, but you wouldn’t change them. The background colour will do nicely though.