Zoe (Stranger #87/100), Paris Bastille

Street Portait

It’s just over a year since I was last in Paris. Last year I shot 19 portraits in two days – so many I didn’t post them all, lest they take over the project and constitute some 20% of my first round! (I still processed them all and sent them to all who asked!).

This year was a much quicker visit. Jessica is obsessed with Joe Dassin’s Aux Champs Elysees and so I thought I’d take her there on a trip for her fourth Birthday (whilst my wife was in Edinburgh on a hen weekend).

With Jessica stowed with my parents for an hour or so, I whizzed out to add a couple of portraits from Bastille – an area I hadn’t previously explored.

Zoe described it as a village within Paris, more than part of the city itself. It did feel very lived in, very independent.

She’d agreed to shoot only after a promise that we would simply delete the images if she didn’t like them. Unfortunately as we walked back to the background – a small entrance way to an apartment block, with a super gradient of soft light into darkness – the caretaker slid the gates shut and locked us out. Just across the road, however, was a grey garage door I thought would serve.

Zoe was very accommodating in heading over there, explaining she’d just been at the gym and wasn’t necessarily very photogenic even in normal circumstances. As she felt a little self conscious, with large crowds of people surging past, I set up the umbrella to screen her off from the main flow of people – offering a little privacy, especially with it mounted on my travel tripod in lieu of a dedicated light stand. We both then held a reflector (hers beneath shot, mine to the left, propped against the wall).

It’s just a single light set up, firing a Canon 600EX-RT at 1/128 power through a 43″ white shoot through, with a clip on diffuser. It’s camera right, acting as a screen about 35* angle, but lower than usual as the tripod has much less height than the light stand.

Fortunately Zoe was happy with the results. Not ecstatic, but happy that they be shared and not deleted!

Thanks Zoe – it was great to chat and I really appreciated your going out of your comfort zone to take part in the project!

This is portrait #87 of my 100 Strangers Project – check out the group page and get involved.

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