stranger (otp179) again at M&F

one last #stranger. I went back to my watering hole, Makers and Finders, and met this nice lady, Cali. I used the uncharacteristic cold rain as an icebreaker and we had a short chat as she was getting her tea and waited for her breakfast before her scuba class at Lake Mead. She’s a singer, originally from Nashville (though born in Phoenix) and loves living out here in Vegas (and scuba diving in Maui). Everybody in this damn town is a transplant…and honestly everyone that isn’t should leave Vegas for a few years so they can be a transplant too!

I asked to take a photo of her and she cheerfully agreed to let me take a few shots. So yeah, over the course of the week…it gets easier with practice! I was a lot more comfortable asking for permission and taking the time to more carefully shoot the subject.

Unfortunately, I can’t say I’m psyched about the originals…which is disappointing since it was the exact same condition as I had with Johnny last week…and on Friday’s coffee shop visit I had experimented with some different things in preparation of this very opportunity. I considered not posting the photo, but I was inspired by +Benjamin B excellent portrait and experimented with pushing the exposure in post. The iphone doesn’t have the headroom like a RAW file, but I’m kind of finding it interesting now that I went way overboard with the curves.

This assignment has been a journey and I really appreciated taking it with with the OTP group. I took the first one only because I didn’t want to wimp out on Jeffery. As important as it was to cross that first hurdle, it was these last couple times that really have cemented my confidence in asking for permission to take portraits of strangers. And I certainly would not have tried these extra times without being pushed and prodded by seeing everyone else jumping past this challenge. Cheers!


stranger (otp179) at Ross

This follow up stranger was not as much about the conversation but pushing myself to ask for permission. In this case, we were hitting up Marshalls and Ross before going to Sam’s Club (big box heaven out here!). I kept procrastinating, but when my wife decided that we needed to head home instead of going to Sam’s Club, I realized it was now or never.

So before going to the checkout line I went ahead and asked Justin (as you can see I got it from his name tag) to let me take a few shots and he happily obliged. These loss prevention folks fill the role as greeter / pseudo security guard (I don’ think they have weapons), and he was friendly when we came in (he said hello to my toddler and smiled back when she grinned at him).

His coworkers gave him a little ribbing so I think we all got a kick out of it! And lucky for me too, cause he was a couple minutes away from ending his shift…he actually left the building before I did.

I took four shots, this was the only one that came out well. I had my 24mm manual lens on the camera and even though I had it stopped down to 5.6 the others all came out a bit fuzzy (though in all honesty, the other compositions were also god awful). In the future I will need to stop down more or just make sure to have my AF lens. When shooting dozens of shots of my daughter, AFing is not nearly as important as when you only get a few chances.


stranger (otp179)

This assignment was a tough one – chat up a stranger and shoot their picture. Get their first name. Naturally, the assignment scared the crap out of me, so I hedged my bets and went to the bar at my usual coffee shop (shout out to Makers and Finders, Las Vegas). It took a while to crack the ice while we surfed on our respective smart phones. I found an entry to start chatting midway through his breakfast by asking about his eggs benedict.

Johnny is a Las Vegas long timer (came with his father in the Air Force) and has been working in hospitality his whole life. He currently does room service at the MGM grand so while I was starting my day, he was ending his. Once the ice was broken, we had a really good chat. As a recent transplant to this city, the ridiculousness that the service industry folks puts up with is still amusing and interesting to me.

About twenty minutes in, I got the courage to ask him let me take a couple photos of him for this “podcast I listen to with weekly assignments” and he happily agreed. As you can see, the backlit lighting conditions was pretty brutal, and the only way to make it a decent image was to just crush the blacks even though I hated losing his sleeve tattoo. I’m not super happy with it, but out of respect to the flow of the conversation I only took two shots (I included the other shot, just auto adjusted by the Mac Photos program). One takeaway with this assignment is that I still need to get better at working my iphone so I’m better prepared for another one or two shot situation like this.

The only reason I pushed through this assignment was because all the previous OTP assignments had taught or showed me something new. Even so, it took an enormous amount of faith in you to go through with this one. Happily I can say that like the other assignments it paid off – maybe not the greatest image, but definitely for the memorable conversation.

Johnny Original
Johnny Original