Shams (Stranger #36/100), London Brick Lane

The graffiti text behind Shams reads “Stranger”. Having seen that, I had to shoot someone in front of, especially with shade in front and the late afternoon sun throwing a tight pool of warm light onto the text behind.

Shams and his girlfriend Viki were checking it out too, and a nearby BT exchange box offered a place for them to rest their coffees. They were fantastic people to get involved.

Viki was over from Hungary visiting Shams, from Paris, as they juggle a long distance relationship sparked when studying together before their personal geography became as complicated as today.

She handled the giant gold reflector, and Shams took centre stage – my fault being to have brought him a little too far near the wall in my excitement to shoot.

He was a fantastic model. When you say “a masculine look, like you’re in Vogue” to the average British male, you generally get one of two things; the most hunched uncomfortable grimace you can imagine, or a punch in the face. Shams understood exactly what was meant, and totally owned the shot.

We fired off ten frames from differing angles to help with reflections in his superbly classy spectacles, and I could have posted any of them – he looks this poised in all of them.

As we finished up, I gave them a card and am delighted they reached out for a copy of the shot. Thank you for stopping and following up Viki and Shams.

I hope you remembered to pick up your coffees!

This is portrait #36 of my 100 Strangers Project – check out the group page and get involved.

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