Photographing a Stranger – EDITED 2/11/11

EDIT of 2/11/11 after meeting up with Rod again and he found this photo!

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This is the plane Rod told me about losing the landing gear and being stranded a month in the Arctic Circle, as a result. I just saw him again today and he brought out this picture!

Too cool to actually see the past brought to life through a story AND a photo!

Read the original story below…..

Criteria:
– The person should be unknown to you.
– It can be a street portrait, studio portrait or environmental portrait.
– The portrait should be simply lit.
– Tell us a little bit about the person – through the image and the caption.
– Tell us how you approached and worked with the subject(s) for the project.

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At first this seemed like a simple exercise for me, since I am known for being able to approach almost anyone and come away with their life story. Friends joke that I can do that standing next to someone while waiting in line to order lunch ☺ The reality was that I ended up very intimidated and nervous about the prospect of doing this assignment.

The truth was also that I did not want to rush it and just get a photo. I wanted it to be memorable and real. I also wanted an image that conveyed the subject’s personality and the atmosphere of the location. I immediately had a place in mind when the assignment was given. There is a street in Pleasanton, California with a corner cafe area and a brick wall that regulars like to hang out at. Most days it is quite crowded with people getting food or coffee and it’s also a regular hangout for the big motorcyle crowd. So, I had the day off on Friday and headed there, after giving up on thoughts of other locations. I really struggled with what equipment to take and finally decided on just my camera bag and a couple flashes. I got there about 2:30 PM and there were just a few people hanging out. First order of business was to procrastinate and head into Tully’s Coffee for a chai latte. I then sat down on the brick wall and started talking with several people.

Around 3:30 PM I started a conversation with Rod, whose real name is Robert, “but everyone there calls him Rod” (He said with a smile). Rod was very friendly. We talked about cameras, kids, the horde of high-schoolers that invaded the square while we were talking, and his own life and times. Rod confided that he is 81 and retired after being a pilot and instructor for major airlines for most of his working life. He lit up while recounting flying transports for TransAmerican Airlines in the late 50’s and how they once lost the nose gear and got stranded in the Arctic Circle for a month and a half! After about an hour of chatting I asked if he would mind me taking some photos of him for my project and he said “Sure”.

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