So, after finishing my Lewis encounter I wandered over to say “Hi” to Rob. He was mid song when I got there but nodded in my direction when he spotted me, whilst waiting for him to finish someone else walked up to him and stood right beside him. As Rob finished his song he thanked everyone and was obviously finished his set but then the guy beside him spoke to him very briefly before retreating to sit on the monument steps at which point Rob picked up his guitar again and sang Happy Birthday to … Alex.
There was no visual hook with Alex in the way there has been with my other strangers (distinctive earings, colourful tats, pink hair etc) but the synergy in terms of Rob singing Happy Birthday to him was too good an opportunity to miss so again, I walked up to him without any hesitation.
Like most of my encounters, his first question was "why" but he was cool with the idea and readily agreed. He asked if he needed to pose or just smile so I went the “just smile” route (although I am beginning to think that when people ask this question I need to start thinking if there is a look that I would like to go for – the casual lean against a wall or whatever that other photographers on here seem to get regularly). I took a few shots with and without his sunglasses on and the shot above was by far the best one – I’m not sure if his mates did something or other but from a slight smile throughout he suddenly broke into this smile and I snapped away at just the right moment.
After taking the shots I sat beside him to show him the photograph and to have a chat. Alex is between jobs at the moment having just come out of the 1st Battalion Parachute Regiment based in St Athans, Wales and has not yet started his next job. He did a stint in Afghanistan as well but he is pretty disillusioned with the Paras now – I asked if this was to do with the current swathe of budget cuts but it seems it is wider ranging than that – ‘It’s all gone to sh!t”.
Alex celebrated his birthday with a drink (or two I would imagine) on Saturday and was going out for a meal tonight so I thanked him and left him to enjoy the rest of his birthday.
Alex, thanks very much for taking part.
This picture is #13 in my 100 strangers project. Find out more about the project and see pictures taken by other photographers at the 100 Strangers Flickr Group page