I had planned this project several months ago, fall of 2008 to be exact. I wanted to go downtown and take portraits of people who spend most of their time roaming those streets. I later decided to include street performers, commonly known in these parts as “buskers. I was a little apprehensive about approaching total strangers and asking them if I could take their portrait. I wasn’t afraid in a physical sense but uncomfortable about how they might react. I had to come across as professional, calm and respectful. For those who accepted my proposal I explained to them what I wanted to do, showed them the portraits as I was taking them and then I was off to buy them breakfast!
My initial apprehension was overcome by a conversation I had earlier in the morning of the first shoot. While on one of my photo excursions around the city I met up with a gentleman I had met only a week or so before. He is a retired firefighter and loves to talk photography. I told him about some of my projects, this one included and he told me he had been in an local office only two days before and was amazed to see portraits on the walls of street people who frequented these same streets when I was a boy 35 and 40 years ago. I remembered at least two of the names, one of which was “Bucky King”! How nice was it that someone at the time had the foresight to take those portraits. But’s that all gone now and there is very little record of it! We were both excited and it brought back childhood memories for us both! There was a lot of character in those faces!
If I didn’t do this maybe no one else will? I decided to head downtown and give it a go! I decided to use a technique of portraiture that Stanley Kubrick used when a staff photographer with LOOK magazine. Kubrick would shoot these portraits from a low angle, looking up at them; the intent was to raise their status!
I was considering doing this in black and white because it seems that many (some would say all) a great portrait was done in black and white! But I decided to stick with colour and make it work the best I can!
I am in contact with a local charity and will donate all profits! I will provide links when I have this finalized!
Thank you for viewing!
Taken on Water St in downtown St John’s Newfoundland, Canada.
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