Portraits in Unconventional Places

October 07, 2013  •  2 Comments

In photography, as in life, it's easy to get into a rut. Easy to default to the familiar, the safe, the low energy expenditure locations. But there's nothing like heading out with an idea you've never tried before and leaving it up to the light, the surroundings and your imagination. 

Photographer Meg Bitton has been posting these amazing shots of families and even pregnant women seemingly in the middle of busy New York streets. They're freaking awesome - all the lights of the city and cars diffuse behind her subjects. It took me a while to figure out how she was pulling it off, but I had a theory and the beginnings of a plan. 

I reached out to Kengi and Dustin, a couple of adventurous friends, and coordinated a shoot. This past Saturday, we set out before the sun was awake to hit downtown Los Angeles and experiment with street photography. Literal in-the-middle-of-the-street-photography. Crazy ass street portraiture. (But perfectly safe! Well, as safe as it is to be on the streets in Los Angeles...)

The key was to pre-plan the shots since we'd only have 15 or so seconds to get a pose and shot composed before the lights changed. 

We were onto something. I would have preferred if the traffic had been a bit heavier but wanted to play it a little safe the first time. I think it would also benefit me from a compositional standpoint to shoot downhill as opposed to a level plain. Time to scout more locations!

After the street street portion, we wandered to see what else we could discover. We found a marquee.

And some great colors:

And some fantastic rim lighting courtesy of a building-sized reflector:

And then we discovered the alley. Dark, damp, littered with garbage and henged in by tall buildings, it was perfect. A rat scuttled for cover as we entered. The shoot took a decidedly darker turn:

The shoot took no more than an hour. We used natural light and whatever was around us. 

Was it worth getting up at 5:30am on a Saturday? Heck, yeah, it was. 

Thanks, Dustin and Kengi for being such good sports! Kengi's work can be seen on Flickr and Facebook.

Now get out there and explore!

 

Gear used: Canon 5d MkII, 70-200 f/2.8 | Shot wide open at f/2.8 the entire time

 


Comments

Candy(non-registered)
These are awesome!
debbie(non-registered)
Great idea to have portraits done in unconventional places. I really want to do the same thing.
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