If you are like me you are probably thinking “What is an Environmental Portrait”? Wikipedia describes it as;
A portrait executed in the subject’s usual environment, such as in their home or workplace, and typically illuminates the subject’s life and surroundings.
It is thought that by photographing the subject in their natural surroundings they will be more at ease and you will see more of their personality rather than a likeness of their physical features
I was interested in environmental portraiture, the mix between the environment and the person. I didn’t know any of these people, but they knew my face and felt comfortable with me. I had been there with a medium-format camera the year before. I would have little contact sheets to show what I was doing. I would ask questions about what they were doing in the community and their lives. They felt comfortable with a toy camera, they were not threatened at all. – Carl Robert Pope, Jr.
I had a problem, it was Saturday morning, the last day for taking this weeks 52 entry photographs and I hadn’t lined up anyone to photograph. I didn’t even know where I was going to find them. Wherever I was going to get the photographs had to be populated to give me a chance of finding someone so the Snowdonia National Park was definitely out. On the other hand the National Park is so busy at weekends with walkers and climbers that it might not have been such a bad idea, but in the end I settled for Llandudno. Why there? It’s a seaside town, with a very long pier which is open on a Saturday, and there’s a very busy High Street.
First stop the pier, but on the way down from the car-park I came across these two giving roses away. Normally photography in shopping malls is not allowed, they’re private property and security usually jump on you fast if you get out a camera, but I thought I’d take my chances. They were happy to pose but I screwed up. I literally took the camera out of the bag and started shooting. Big mistake, the camera was set on a low ISO, aperture was all wrong, as was the focus point, it’s behind the girl. Face detection was turned off as well so I ended up with a couple of blurred photographs. This is the best of the bunch.
I’ve done a little bit of street photography before but I’ve never actually gone up and asked someone if I can take their photograph but as the saying goes “Nothing ventured, nothing gained”. My plan was to stop and talk and then ask if I could take a photograph.
First stop, the donut stall on the pier. A really nice lady, so straight out I asked if I could photograph her. OK! It’s a bit posed but success, I’ve managed to ask and get a yes. That was easy….
Three rejections later, two quite polite and one rather rude, I was beginning to feel a bit down-hearted. Admittedly I only need one photograph for the 52 challenge, and I knew I had that with the lady above, but I really wanted another one to be sure. Then I came upon this lovely couple who approached me to photograph them with their camera. We stood talking for a while and then I suggested I take another one with my camera. looks like the talking before-hand is paying off.
Flushed with success I was about to leave the pier and walk back into town. At the first booth there was a lady selling ice-creams and candy floss, well not exactly, it was a bit cold and still early in the day. Building on my success I managed to convince here to let me take her photograph. A bit shy at first, which you can see, but I’m happy with the results.
So there you have it. I actually enjoyed talking to people and once a sort of rapport was established I was able to get a photograph.