Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Diner at Popeye's Nets a 100 Stranger Shot

Popeye’s was having a buy a three piece dinner and get a two piece dinner free. You know me—cheap, cheap, cheap and fried chicken sounded good.

When I got out of the car, I took my camera as I always do. There was a young lady leaning up against the building talking on her cell phone. I didn’t want to intrude but as I stepped up on the sidewalk I heard her ask, “Do you want to take my picture?” I answered, “Absolutely.” I explained my 100 Stranger project and ask her to move just slightly to eliminate a background sign. It turns out that she is the Assistant Manager with the unusual name of Shawneequa (Shawn ee ka) Jefferson.

I am going to have to learn to take more time in these situations. Thinking back now, the sign might have added an interesting environmental touch to the photograph. And as I frequently do, I forgot to really check the histogram, aperture and shutter speed. I was using the 85mm and the shutter speed was on 1/30 sec so that of the three photographs I took, only this one was fairly sharp. Bad, bad, bad. In almost every case there is always something that I wish I had done differently after the fact. That could be solved if I would just slow down, chit chat (which I don’t do very well) and reconnoiter the situation before I start shooting.

I can’t believe that I am actually adding to my 100 Strangers Project after several months of inactivity. I think shooting with the Houston Photographers and Models Meetup is making it easier to do. I just so seldom have an opportunity to really take people pictures outside of Janet. Anyway, it feels good to be working on the project, but mostly it feels good to once again have people in front of my camera.

I have been putting together a portfolio of the people pictures that I have taken in the last few months and I have noticed an interesting trend. I have often said that when I take your photograph I want to be sitting on your lap, meaning that I really enjoy getting in and working close to the person that I am photographing. Well it seems that I am doing that pretty much with the photographs of the men but I back off on the women. I have got to figure out why that is. I think it may be because I am less scared of men than I am of women, or I give the women a little more respect by not invading personal boundaries. This was something that I really was not aware of until I started grouping the photographs together. With Shawneequa I broke the trend and plan on continuing. I do like close close-ups.

I’ve got the Photos with Horses photoshoot coming up this next weekend and then the zombie photoshoot the following weekend. I am looking forward to both. I am taking Janet to the Horse shoot since it is in Huffman and there is no way I could stick to my two to three hour time frame. I had planned on taking her to the zombie shoot when it was planned on Chimney Rock at West Belfort because I would have good sidewalks. However, it has been changed to Lamar at Roberts and there are no sidewalks. That is disappointing but the backgrounds will be much better. It’s in the East Side so they plan on packing up promptly at 6:30pm because they are concerned about the people in the area.


  1. Gary, I'm glad to see that you are adding to your "strangers" project. I agree that the model shoots are probably helping you with your "stranger danger" issues. I'm curious why this particular format? Clipping the top of her head and not showing that much of her neck? Seems like a vertical format would have been more appropriate? However, I know you don't do anything without a reason so just wondering what your thinking was in presenting it that way?

    Woodlands Fall Contest was last night. Lots of excellent prints - 136 entries with 28 participants. I was a little disappointed - no ribbons but I did receive 2 Honorable Mentions. Oh well..better luck next time?

  2. As tough as you mention the judging to be I would say that two honorable mentions is very good. As you recall I entered the competitions at NWHPC for two or three years before I ever got a ribbon and NWHPC is not nearly so tough as what you described. LOL Of course I learned the secret this year—enter when no one else does and they don’t have any other choice but to give you a ribbon.

    Jan, I really like faces. I am fascinated by faces and I really want to stick the camera in as close as I can get it. Now, how does that apply to photography, I'm not sure. I think it may be like a vitamin deficiency where you crave foods that contain the vitamin but have no idea why. Being a recluse I am sure has a lot to do with how I approach photographs of people.

    I did do a vertical and I do like the composition considerably better. Actually I shot three--and totally, I mean totally missed the focus on all three. It seems that I just go off half cocked every time I get into this situation. I had been shooting some photographs around the house using a ziplock bag to create a blur around the edges. I was shooting on manual and when I went to take these photographs it simply never occurred to me to even look at the camera controls. That is stupid, but it happens to me all the time. Maybe I need to graduate to a point and shoot. I am not sure if I do that because I am nervous, because I don't usually feel nervous, or if it is because I am just so excited to find someone that is willing to sit for a portrait that everything else goes blank—all mental processes just shuts down. I do know one thing, I do get rushed because I don’t want to impose on the person, another problem with being a recluse, which in this case was silly because Shawneeque is the one that suggested taking her photograph. After the fact, seeing the photos on the screen I can think of a dozen things that I should have done before clicking the shutter. I really get upset with myself after it is over. It feels like I just missed another great opportunity. Of the people photographs that I have taken recently, this is by far the least interesting and worst composed. But, it’s a photograph of a person who was willing to sit for me and for that I am pleased to have it.

    Here is my goal, should it happen again: stop, relax, look around, notice that I have a camera that has adjustable controls, chit-chat (you know how I hate to do that), think, think, think, set the camera, then and only then start taking photographs. What do you want to bet that I forget every one of those steps? I sure wouldn't bet against it.