Monday, May 4, 2009

Environmental Portrait Project

Environmental Portrait Project:

Photography for me is a passion and occasionally, I like to assign myself an assignment to push my creativity and give myself direction.

Going back to my winter vacation in Israel, I made it my goal to exercise my Hebrew and speak with people on the train. Out of that grew a similar goal in the US to speak with the person next to me on the train. Hey, I'm going to be sitting next to that person for 2 good hours, so why not take some time and learn about them? Through this, I've met quite a few interesting people.

If I'm meeting people all the time on the train and I may never seen them again, but why not find out more about my classmates at the university. So my self assignment was thus born; I would go out and photography people in their environment being themselves. I have learned that people have this irrational fear of cameras and I still haven't figured out why. Some people, it's taken some more time to convince, but gradually, more and more people became interested in the project.

I've also looked to using old fashion methods of photographing instead of using digital cameras. I feel this helps me get back to the beauty of photography. It takes about 45 minutes to develop the film negatives and each 7'' by 7'' print takes about 25-30 minutes from start to finish. It's surprising for me how fast the times passes as I am in the darkroom exposing the paper, running it through the chemical baths, then taking it out into the light to see its full glory. I love the toned that I get from black and white film and developing. I've also come to realize that film won't be perfect and to love it even more than despite its imperfections. There will also be some dust - or at least for me it always will... for now.

I love the interaction with people that photography provides me. That reason in of itself is one of the main reasons why I do photography. I can't imagine doing something where I don't interact with others. So taking time to learn about people on the street and about who they are is an extremely rewarding experience. The man to the right, I met him in downtown Toledo where a new sports arena is being constructed. I took a few minutes and asked him about the arena, then I took some time to ask him more personal questions about his work and why he started into construction. After some time, I felt he was comfortable, and he agreed to let me photograph him. I also met some people at Jimmy John's right around the corner. They were more than happy to be photographed. I usually go to Jimmy John's when I'm in Toledo on the weekends, so they know my face.

I am still continuing the project and I feel it is becoming an overall theme for my work. I have always felt that a plain background is nice, but isn't even better if we can see a photo that shows a bit of who the person is? How often is that we pass people all the time without thinking who they are or the kind of interesting people they might be? As people photographers, it's necessary that we have good people skills, and at times, that might mean stepping out of comfort zones. Even if you're not a photographer and reading this, it might be well worth your time to try and meet some new people.

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