Lena (Stranger #53/100), Paris Pont Neuf La Samaritaine

Day two in Paris saw me wandering and shooting some more general street and travel shots. Oddly I find the 100L macro lens rather effective for that – it forces one to select and isolate, it declutters.

It’s also my stranger project lens (every shot so far has been taken with it, all at f/3.2*), so when an opportunity presents itself I am ready.

On this occasion the opportunity came as two backgrounds. Walking down through Les Halles I arrived outside the derelict La Samaritaine. On one side of the road a bold green hoarding offered potential, whilst newly laid concrete, smooth as ice and dusted with a fine, porcelain powder, sat beneath the department stores old canopy. Shaded from above, with the street a vast and flawless reflector it was like a street photographer’s ideal studio-perfect beauty lighting setup.

After a short wait and a rejection, a couple appeared that matched both. Michael (see comments) had a bold green hat to work with the green hoarding, and I thought Lena’s bright skin and eyes would be superb in the even lighting.

Like death, taxes and the inevitable late opposition equaliser, there comes a time when the 100 Strangers photographer shoots a roller shutter background. With Lena’s superb tricolore striped top, that fateful moment had arrived for me.

We shot with Lena first, then Michael, each helping with a gold reflector for the other, and a punch of fill from my on camera softbox. The effect is most pleasing on Lena’s portrait I think – perhaps I could have found a little more drama in harder light for Michael, who I let down somewhat – given the superb intensity of his stare.

We chatted, and it turned out they were Poles, visiting Paris from Norway to top up on sun. Stavanger, it turns out is pretty grim in terms of weather. It felt like a good handing on of the torch – I’m shooting more stranger portraits in Bergen come July, then Poland in August.

They were a fantastic couple; bright, friendly, keen to understand and excited to participate. Lena and Michael – thank you so much for taking part, and our energetic chat. Dziękuję

This is portrait #53 of my 100 Strangers Project – check out the group page and get involved.

*In fact there is one I messed up and shot at f/3.5 by mistake…

Hope everyone had a great week – catching up now.

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