London portrait challenge

I was in London this weekend for two specific reasons: to see the Alec Soth show (yes, it was amazing) and to meet up with a friend/fellow photographer I met during the photojournalism workshop I did back in August (y'know, the one with all the speed dating). Oh, and if I'm being honest, reason #3 was to go and eat at my favorite Ethiopian place again. Florence is sadly lacking in Ethiopan food, but I digress. It was a lovely weekend of bookstores and photography shows and great conversation; in fact, it was so lovely that I didn't even mind my flight back to Florence getting canceled. Well, maybe I minded a little... but the airline did give put me up in the Hilton overnight and I ordered room service. Maybe that was also a blessing in disguise.

Before going to the photo show, I spent the morning wandering London and ended up stopping a few strangers in the street to ask for a portrait. I told my friend about it later and mentioned how, for whatever reason, asking people for their photo is so much harder than shooting candid street photos (ironic considering I did commercial portrait photography for years prior to grad school). Oddly enough, my friend has the opposite problem and can talk to strangers without problems. So, what do two photo nerds decide to do when they find themselves in a city like London armed with cameras and 30 minutes to kill? The answer: a half-hour photo challenge. We gave ourselves a set period of time to take street portraits, alternating between posed and candid, and shot what we could.

Because "posed" portraits are a little outside the realm of my usual street photography MO, those are the ones I'm going to show you today. So, here are the results of a day in London spent talking to strangers... it's a side to this kind of photography that I'm (slowly but surely) getting more comfortable with.