I first noticed Red and Green stood at the bottom of Grey’s Monument looking up at it. They then wandered off and Red started trying to photograph Green whilst he was perched precariously on the wall of the nearby Metro Station – it was clear that they were trying to get a shot of him with the monument in the background. Still not happy though they wandered down the street perching on bike stand after bike stand and they were obviously struggling to get what they wanted. So I decided that what they needed was yet another factor to cope with …
… when I approached the pair, Red was lying on the ground and Green was attempting to float mid air so I waited until they were stood with all four feet upon the ground then asked if I could take their photo. They agreed but it was only when I explained a bit more that they actually stopped and paid me any attention. They said that they didn’t want to give me their names so I asked them if they would each make one up instead.
At this point I learned that they were doing a series of challenges for charity each one demanding photographic evidence – right now they were attempting to stand on poor Earl Grey’s head! I also realised at this time that they didn’t really want to hang around although I didn’t ask exactly how many challenges they still needed to complete.
I asked them to pop back up onto the bike stand and I took a couple of shots (although as you can see Red didn’t fancy the pair of them trying to balance on one stand). None of the shots were great and I knew it but I didn’t want to impose on them too much since they were obviously in a hurry.
When Green jumped down again I asked what their charity was and when he replied the Army Benevolent Fund I realised that they were soldiers and that was why they didn’t want to give their names – which they confirmed.
Nonetheless, I turned to Red and said "Go on then, what’s your name?" – I actually meant what made up name had he come up with but he surprised me by giving me his real name and his mate followed suit. I generally don’t include surnames so I’ll simply introduce them as Paul (Green) & James (Red).
Paul & James, thanks very much for taking part today – I hope that you completed all your challenges and raised lots of money – you were obviously having fun trying anyway.
With hindsight I really regret not at least trying to get a better shot – perhaps they wouldn’t have appreciated me taking too much time over my shot but if this was the case I’m sure they would have just told me politely that they needed to get on.
I know that I should have exposed for the background, selected a narrow aperture to keep the shutter speed below 1/250, lit Paul & James with my speedlight, and possibly even deliberately underexposed to add a bit of pop to the subjects … see, I am learning the theory at least!
I’m also a bit annoyed with myself for the pose as well – a good idea occurred to me afterwards – both stood on the ground facing each other – arms crossed – turned to look at me with the monument bang in the middle of the background. When I look at what I got I realised just how rushed an encounter it was and I think I should be doing better by now but I still lack the confidence to really impose on someone! I didn’t even notice the Asda bag – doh!!!
I’ve been dreading this day since I started the project but today was the day that I took a photograph so bad that I was tempted not to post it but right from the start I’ve always told myself I would post every shot. This project is a learning exercise after all and it would be unrepresentative to omit a shot because it wasn’t good enough. The simple fact is that 70 strangers into my project I took a really, really poor photograph and my project must include that just as it includes a "Page 1 Explore" and all the photos that I’m personally proud of.
I wouldn’t bother providing critique on the technical aspects of this photograph. I know it’s poor ;).
This picture is #70 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