How to Photograph a Stranger

by valrac4_a3kqdy

The Seneca @ York Independent Digital Photography Program is a two-year diploma course that prepares students for a freelance career and provides them with the necessary skill set to work in a multidisciplinary studio. Photo Life is proud to partner with Seneca students to document their journey through the school curriculum. Follow them each week!

Class: Photography III
Assignment: Public Service Announcement
Student: Gabriela Parada
Professor: Patrick Fordham
Assignment guidelines: Create a public service announcement about a topic of your choice.

© Gabriela Parada Canon 7D with Canon 50 mm f/1.4 lens, 1/160 s, f/11, ISO 100.

© Gabriela Parada
Canon 7D with Canon 50 mm f/1.4 lens, 1/160 s, f/11, ISO 100.

Background: When I got this assignment I had so many ideas. They were very cliché to be honest, so I thought about it for a couple of days. I decided I wanted my PSA to be about safe sex. However, I wanted it to be different and fun. I had a couple of ideas that I discussed with my professor. He gave me some advice, and I was finally ready with a clear image of what I wanted to do. I still needed to find my subject. I believe that the subject of a photograph plays a very important role and if you don’t have the right person, the message or idea you want to express might not be as strong or clear as it could be.

Process: Since I’m an international student I don’t know many people in Toronto except for my classmates. We were not allowed to use our friends for this assignment. I went around school literally hunting for my perfect subject. After looking for a couple of days, I found the right guy. He seemed to be outgoing, extroverted and fun—exactly what I needed. I approached him and told him about my idea. He was totally willing to help me, and I was all set to shoot with a clear idea and a subject. For this assignment we needed to use one of the lighting patterns we learned in previous classes (Rembrandt, split light, butterfly, etc.). I chose a Rembrandt light pattern and used a strobe as a background light, a medium soft-box as a main light on the right side of the subject and a small white piece of cardboard as a reflector on the left side of the subject.

Conclusion: Overall, it was a lot of fun to shoot this. My subject was very collaborative and down for everything. This made for a very easy shoot. I was really happy with the result. I learned that there’s nothing wrong with asking random people to pose for you; the worst thing that can happen is for them to say no. Having the initiative of going to find “the right subject” made my final image a total success. Thanks to Jesse for the help! Since then I’ve found it much easier to ask people I don’t know to pose for me.

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