Randy - stranger #14
New York City, USA
Randy, strangely enough, was sitting on the kerb in Chelsea (NYC) typing a letter. We had a great chat he explained that he ran a business selling used records from outside of a disused shop. Apparently the landlord is gradually trying to close down the businesses on the block so it can be redeveloped, so Randy has set up his stall outside one of the vacant stores selling his records.
He told me about the changes in the area and that the majority of the creative folks had been driven out by the increasing rents. Rather a sad story and something echoed in London.
Randy was a really nice guy but I left our encounter with the sad feeling that we'll see fewer of the eccentric 'real' New Yorkers on the street in the future.
Peter - stranger #13
The Digey, St. Ives, Cornwall
I interrupted Peter eating a lunch of roast duck and roast potatoes outside this restaurant in St. Ives. He had a digital Leica sitting on the table and he kindly let me try it out. We got talking about film vs digital the pros and the cons - as you do.
Peter works as an artist, based in St. Ives, and shoots landscapes. I can't remember if he said he painted from life or the photograph. A really confident guy, I got the impression nothing would phase him!
Sorry about interrupting your lunch Peter.
Linda - stranger #12
Harbour, St. Ives, Cornwall
During the summer Linda paints in her VW camper on the harbour St. Ives. A more beautiful place to paint it's hard to think of.
We had a great chat, Linda was explaining the differences in light on the water. As a photographer I think I see more than most but when you're painting the same scene over weeks and months you really see!
Martha - stranger #11
Grenson, Hanbury Street, Spitalfields.
Martha was standing in the doorway of Grenson, a shoe shop in Spitalfields, and I just couldn't walk past without asking if I could take her portrait. I didn't feel I could stand and chat as long as I would have liked as we were so obviously in the way, so I took a couple of shots, gave Martha my card and I was on my way.
I do hope you find this Martha and thanks.
Julian - stranger #10
Silver Place - Soho, London
This is Julian, we meet when we were both out shooting in the same part of Soho. Julian was testing out a new Lumix digital camera fitted with a very nice Leica lens. He knew more about the origins of my Nikon camera than I did. He said he used to shoot film a few years ago but was now really enjoying the convenience of digital. I started to try to change his mind and tempt him to go back to the film world but I could see I was on to a loser! But we ended up talking about various aspects of photography for a very enjoyable fifteen minutes.
I've sent Julian a copy of the shots and gave him my card so hopefully he likes them. Thanks for a really enjoyable chat Julian.
Alice - stranger #9
Carnaby Street, London
Alice is originally from Sweden although her English is so good I hadn't picked it up until she told me. She was taking a break from work in Carnaby Street when I approached her.
We were standing in a very narrow street, the wind was gusting and blowing her hair in that classic beauty shot style. In two of the three shots it's covering Alice's face, but this one worked out well. That's the disadvantage and the thrill of film you don't know what you've got until you develop the film.
Alice has been living in London since January, she said she really liked it but was missing home. I forgot to ask Alice where in the world she would live but I guess at the moment it would be Sweden.
Thanks for your time Alice and I hope you get to see this.
David - stranger #8
Spitalfields Market, Spitalfields, London
I was sitting outside Spitalfields Market watching David work. He works shooting street fashion for Asos amongst others.
I was really interested in the way he could approach people in the street and in a couple of minutes talking to them have them adopting the poses he wanted - a real skill. David wasn't shy in telling the subject what was right and what wasn't. I got chatting to him and we sat on one of the benches talking for about 20 minutes. He was happy to explain what we was looking for what he wasn't, I learnt a lot. Thanks David. David asked me to email him a picture so I hope he likes it.
A really nice guy and very cool.
Ian - stranger #7
Greenwich Park, London
Ian was the second person in a row that I've interrupted eating their lunch. In Ian's case it was a rather tasty looking sausage in a roll - as opposed to a sausage roll, which is an entirely different thing.
I explained to Ian what I was doing and he happily accepted, although when it came to me taking the picture I could tell he wasn't entirely comfortable, so even more thanks are due.
Ian is from the Isle of Wight and was in Greenwich on a coach trip for the day, he was soon to be heading off to the London Eye. I was envious as I still haven't been on it.
If Ian could live anywhere in the world it would be the Isle of Wight, which is brilliant. Thanks Ian.
Pembe - stranger #6
Ridley Road Market, Dalston, London
I'd just received my first rejection of the stranger project, when a shopkeeper had said (very politely) he'd rather I didn't take his portrait. I guess it had to happen at some time. But it made me particularly pleased that Pembe said yes.
I interrupted Pembe eating her lunch, but when I explained what it was all about she willingly agreed. I usually ask people not to smile in their portraits, but Pembe just stood and adopted this straight face, just what I was after.
Pembe said that her family originally come from Cyprus, but if she could live anywhere in the world it would be Fiji.
Thanks Pembe for taking part and sorry I interrupted your lunch.
I made the same stupid mistake I made before of including a large chunk of bright(ish) sky so underexposing the image. I'm really annoyed with myself formaking the same mistake again.
Ellie - stranger #5
Wardour Street, London
I shouldn't have been surprised when Ellie said she worked as a model, she was very striking (and tall), more so than I've made her look here.
I think I've got my 'can I ...' introduction down, but it's still a little nerve racking approaching a very attractive girl on the street and asking if you can take their portrait. As with everyone I've asked so far she was very cool about it. She was in London with friends on a trip from her native Tyneside, where she's studying.
She said if I was ever in the area and needed a model I should look her up, and if I ever had the budget I would. Remember the name Ellie Berry, she just might be big one day!
One thing I need to take more note of when taking these portraits is the background, I really don't like that big block of bright sky to the right side of the frame.
Didier - stranger #4
Bateman Street, London
This is Didier. I was standing in front of this cafe on Bateman Street thinking it would be a good spot to take a portrait when Didier came up and started asking me about my camera. We got chatting and I asked him if it was OK to take his portrait. Unfortunately it was beginning to get a little dark, in the closed streets of Soho, but I think this works OK.
Didier is originally from South Africa and had lived in Nottingham for a while before moving to London. He was telling me he'd been having a hard time recently, I don't think it's right to share the details but, Didier, if you read this I hope things work out for you.
Damien - stranger #3
Frith Street, London
I thought I was off to a good, if slightly shaky, start on my strangers project and then what with work and home commitments I hadn't had a chance to get out for a few weeks. So by the time I came to shoot stranger #3 I felt like I was starting again. However I bit the bullet.
This is Damien, he was sitting outside Cafe Nero in Frith Street, smoking his cigar looking very comfortable. I didn't even get all the way through my "I'm working on a photo project, would you mind ...", "Yeah, no problem" said Damien, and he adopted the pose. I assumed he must live or work locally, but he said no he didn't he just liked to come here, smoke and hang out. To be honest I can't think of a much better place to do that. A nice guy who it was a pleasure to meet.
Danny - stranger #2
Morwell Street, Bloomsbury, London
This shot was taken on the same day as Sophie's portrait, I needed to convince myself that it wasn't just a fluke and I was actually doing this project.
Danny is an 'A' level photography student studying at Islington College. He was taking pictures of a friend in Morwell Street, Bloomsbury, which made it a little easier to approach him. I told him a little about the project and he was happy to have his picture taken as long as he could take one of me, which he did.
If I'm going to continue to do this I need to learn to nail the focus a bit better, although I'm still putting this one down to first-day nerves. I don't think anyone has ever said a coat is the critical point of focus - sorry Danny.
Sophie - stranger #1
Berwick Street, London
I started 2012 determined not to let my photography drift so much as it has been, to work on one or two projects throughout the year. I've started with 100 Strangers, a project where the photographer has to approach strangers ask if they can take their portrait, learn a little about them and engage with the subject.
This is Sophie, after initially thinking I was weird, she was very cool about the whole thing, she is my first stranger (a fact I didn't disclose at the time). Sophie worked locally and was taking a break from her day. I gave her my card so hopefully she'll checkout the shot on my web site.
There are things I'm not happy with this picture; that fact that I was quite nervous and so cold I couldn't feel my fingers didn't help, but I've started, and hopefully I'll learn as I go on.