I am going to spoil this early but I do it -street portraits- because it’s NOT easy. It’s uncomfortable for me to walk up to a stranger and ask them out of nowhere to take a photo of them. That's the point of this exercise.
Most people see it as an odd request and I understand that. But... Can I turn an awkward moment into a magical one? Can I capture who the person is at this point in time at this location? When I take street portraits, I don't ask them to pose or do anything that does not come from them. I don't even move them. I want them as they are. I have come to relish the tension that exists between us.
I shoot street portraits because most of my pictures are when people are not involved with me. My photography alter ego, aka 147Photos, is a family and wedding documentary photographer and as such, this guy shoots candids -intentionally- and I, Antoine, feel that street portraits take me out of my comfort zone and that's a welcomed departure from the rest of my work.
I do it because it rattles the cage. It is unsettling, raw, honest, revealing and entirely HUMAN. I also love it because I interact with someone I would have never met otherwise and that adds to the human experience.
Personally, the faster I take the picture after I introduce myself to them, the better… because I took them “by surprise”, the more unexpected the request, the more revealing the photo is. I don't want to "Bruce Gilden" these portraits (watch the video for a visual explanation) but I don't have the luxury to sit down with them and wait until they reveal themselves to me.
At first, I asked people if I could TAKE a portrait of them. I now tell people: Can I MAKE a portrait of you? It's just one letter but it's an important one. Words matter. These moments, these pictures are collaborations. Dan Milnor said of documentary portraits -and I am paraphrasing : "It's not a drive-by, it's an oil picture. It's critical to draw them in." Yes, Dan... preach
Frankly, I do it because it’s rewarding. It is incredibly primal, honest and revealing. I love to know interesting and different people. I am always curious to know who that person is and what brought them to cross path with me at that moment in time.