Every photographer has their mentors. Some are famous and others are local teachers. One of my local mentors is Lyn from Photo Tours DC http://www.phototourdc.com/
Lyn will take groups on walk about classes, offers webinars and challenges his students to get out of their comfort zone. He has been doing a project called 100 Strangers, and encouraged me to give it a try. Lyn also got me to start shooting my camera on manual and really got me thinking much more about composition. Even if you're a beginner and have a point and shoot or a cell phone for a camera, I would encourage you to go on one of his tours. He teaches to all levels and the group size is not too large.
Today I decided to take on Lyn's challenge to go shoot images of some strangers. I had a new 85mm lens that I really wanted to try out so I put it on the camera and walked around Old Town Alexandria with my husband Mark. I told Mark that I was going to do this and asked if he was OK with it. He replied "It's really no different then when you go around petting everyones dogs." I pondered that a moment and decided that he was right and that maybe strangers weren't so scary.
I walked to the end of the block and saw a very interesting guy. He was sitting on his bike sideways, leaning against the stone wall of the Starbucks. I approached and asked if I could take his picture. He was thrilled and I got this shot.
I wish I had asked his name. I really like the shot and I'm liking my new lens too. I see why they say it's so nice for portraits.
Mark wanted to walk over to the Torpedo factory so off we went. I saw this adorable little boy feeding popcorn to the Seagulls and pigeons. He was having so much fun and the birds were flocking to him. I asked his Mom if I could take a shot and got this little image of glee.
And of course there were some pretty nice Seagulls posing for me while circling for some food
Since it was damp and cold Mark and I decided to go into the Torpedo factory. One of the studios has the most colorful paintings and drew me right in. I LOVE color and Jennifer was a friendly artist happy to talk about her work. We chatted a while and found an instant connection. As I was walking out I stopped and asked if I could snap a few shots of her. She was working on a really colorful piece and I had her just work while I shot and then had her look at the camera.
So we decide to walk back to the car and I hear someone yelling at us. I look up and it's the first guy I shot riding by on his bike. He's in the middle of the street yelling, "Do you want my picture now, look no hands." He cracked me up, and I got this
So now I must say, Lyn was right. Taking pictures of total strangers is fun. I also think it will make me a better portrait photographer. I don't have all that control of the light and the situation. I am capturing a moment and a person in that moment. I will be trying this experiment again.