One of the reason I love going on holiday so much is that I’m completely free to approach my photography as I like, without the constraints of work, client demands and a busy schedule. It is also the perfect time to work on personal projects.
Wales is one of the countries I enjoy photographing the most but this year I wanted to do something more than just traditional landscape and street photography. The first morning after our arrival I was walking through the Machynlleth market and I noticed some very interesting people there. It was at that point I decided that the market, shops and people of Wales could be a very good theme for a personal photography project.
But for me personally, the project was interesting for yet another reason. It meant that I would have to interact with foreign people and ask them permission to take their photograph, something that I’m honestly not used to. I have always admired photographers who do this almost every day with such apparent ease. I tend to be a shy person, which makes me by default a shy photographer.
My goal was very simple. I wanted to take photographs of people in their working context, in this case their stands and shops working only with natural light. The X100s was the perfect choice because of its 23mm focal length (35mm equivalent on full frame format) and because of its unobtrusive appearance. Actually, as I was walking around and observing the vendors, a couple of people asked me if I was shooting film. Another guy recognised the camera and asked me about it as he was planning to buy it.
I must say that the fear of asking a person I don’t know if I can take his or her photograph is not so bad after a couple of attempts. I think my main concern at the beginning was the negative response I could receive to the question “Do you mind if I take a picture of you?“. In total, I think I asked more than 30 people and only two said no. Some said yes right away, others asked some questions first like why or what it was for, but generally, people were flattered. I did encountered some people who were more shy or wary who accepted with less enthusiasm. In that situation, I always tried to be friendly and put the subject at ease as much as possible.
I also asked them for their email addresses so I could send them a copy of the photograph. Unfortunately, not everyone had one or gave me one, but I think it is a nice thing to do. Not only is it a way of staying in contact with your subject but it also allows you to ask them for written permission to publish the photo online.
A quick note about post-processing: I worked the raw files using Lightroom 5 and the Pastel preset from the Rebecca Lily Pro Set II.
The only photo I took of a person I know is the one below but I excluded it from the gallery because she is a relative. Even though I only met her for the first time this year, it is different from asking a complete stranger for a photo. That said, the image came out very well so I thought I would include it in the article anyway. She is also one of the most interesting people I’ve ever met, and probably the biggest “Status Quo” fan you’ll ever encounter!
I hope you enjoy the gallery and my first personal project with the X100s!