The brief for this exercise is to produce five portraits of strangers from a variety of backgrounds. They must be classed as ‘Other’ so that they may differ by a significant respect from myself. This could be by age, gender, sexual orientation, ethnic background, social class, etc.
I am also to keep notes of contact details from the subjects that I can photograph in order to be able to re-visit them for another exercise at a later date.
As a salesman I have had to cold-call by literally knocking on doors to try to drum up business; but I was never very successful at it; and it can be very sole destroying. The best method to find new business is to first find the individual or department that is the turn key then my success rate was far better.
Fortuitously, I received a round robin email from a fellow student on this course looking to find other ‘Self and the Other’ students and I replied. I learned that he was at section three; so I asked for his advise. His reply was very helpful.
- He suggested that I create a scripted introduction and a brief pitch to explain what I’m doing and what I want.
- He also advised to play on my student status as that can create both sympathy and co-operation and my mature student status can also sometimes break the ice.
- Show my student I.D.
- Give them a card with my contact details: College email, mobile number, My website address (for examples of my work and where they can find their photos).
- And he suggested how best to approach them in the street: By approaching from the side not from behind or from directly in front, as these approaches can be misread as either creepy or confrontational before I have had a chance to open my mouth and explain anything.
On reflection this advise isn’t much different to the methods that was at my disposal and that I employed as a salesman: business card (Corporate related contact information), evidence of identification (Company I.D. card, membership to relevant associations), evidence of corporate backing (Company logo, company email address, etc.), evidence of work and professional integrity (Company website).
I immediately got to work and designed and ordered 100 cards that I can use as evidence of my sincerity and give to people who agree to pose for me. I borrowed my college’s logo to include on my card as corporate identity with a sample go my work on the back. I then got on to composing my introduction and pitch.
I decided to use my small compact Fujifilm camera X100F, for two reasons, my Nikon DSLR is very large and heavy and the smaller camera is also less intimidating and easy to carry around, whilst still looking and acting as a proper camera.
I expect the best method to obtain the portraits is to break the ice by starting up a conversation leading to the request, this I am sure is how Diane Arbus worked.