As photographers, we should always be looking at ways to get out of our comfort zone in order to grow. You can achieve this by shooting outside of your niche, going to a play or taking part in an event you normally wouldn’t go to. A less traditional approach, and one that I attempted this weekend was asking strangers to take their portraits.
Last night my wife and I were spending our last evening in Washington D.C.’s National Harbor area and I had been itching to try out some new gear that I had just purchased. We went to grab dinner at the english pub and the bartender had a “majestic” beard and he was someone that I really wanted to photograph.
After stewing for a little while I looked over to my wife and said: “I’m gonna do it, I’m gonna ask him if I could make a portrait of him”. She looked at me with a strange look, I think she was waiting for an April fools punchline, but I was serious. The next time the bartender checked on us, I asked him if I could take some photos of him and he looked at me to see if I was serious and said sure!
We walked back to the hotel, grabbed the lights and came back. As I was walking back I was starting to get ideas for what look I was going for and what photos I wanted. Because I just purchased the lights I didn’t have any modifiers nor a light stand but I had to deal with what I had.
Once we got back to the pub, none of the shots that I had in my head were working out. For some reason I thought I would have the bartenders un-divided attention but what I failed to realize was the bartender couldn’t stop working so I had to improvise.
After all was done, I fell in love with the image below. My goal was to convey his bright personality, his animated nature, and of course his skill as a bartender. I feel like this image conveys all 3.
- Always be ready for the change, it is inevitable.
- Be confident in your skills
- Be willing to try something new
- Commit, don’t quit