I've been trying to do more street photography lately, and Last Thursdays on Alberta St. in Portland is a great place to do so. I chose my newly-acquired Olympus XA 35mm film camera for the evening. This thing came out in 1979 and is quirky AF. I had no idea what the photos would look like when I was walking around taking these. I just hoped they would turn out decent.
But enough about cameras. The real goal of this evening was to have fun and interact with some people. It's just a great feeling to walk down the street and not worry about cars. I feel like everyone's mood is lifted by this.
Street Art and Vendors
I noticed some really cool reflections in some displayed street art and was trying to get a few photos of this (they didn't turn out that great). As I was walking away, a guy named Andrew Rapisarda (pictured below) handed me his business card. My first thought was, oh shit, this guy thought I was just trying to photograph his art so I could reproduce it. I told him about the cool reflection in his art I was trying to photograph, then immediately was like, "Hey! Can I photograph you?" He was cool with it, so I took this one below:
Bitches of the Sun
There was live music everywhere that night, but the band Bitches of the Sun was my favorite. They had teeny tiny amps and a very small drum kit, but it didn't really matter. They rocked it and people were into them. I left a small tip in the jar and told the bass player they sounded great. He was really friendly and he was nice enough to let me take a quick photo of him in between songs.
Sometimes Approaching Strangers is Hard
As a naturally shy person, photographing strangers is not something that comes easily to me. Fear, however, is a great motivator. While walking around that evening, I noticed this girl sitting on the sidewalk. She was compelling. She was just sitting there calmly with all the craziness going on around her. After walking by a couple times, I introduced myself and asked if I could take her photo. I sat on the ground with her for a few minutes and just chatted. She said her name was Anastasia, and she grew up in Russia.
I’m sure I said some dorky things. I talked about this movie I recently saw that was based in Russia. Nice, Chris! Despite not being smooth, I felt completely present. There were tons of people walking all around us as we were talking. I didn’t care about the distractions. I was really just trying to listen and get a glimpse of this person. Sure, the photo could be better composed, but this is what I call a victory.
I’m trying to remind myself that comfort is not the answer all the time. I need to learn from fear and just keep it by my side. Maybe you see in the photo above what I was trying to capture?
Overall, I'm pretty happy with these photos. I love the colors and the feeling of nostalgia with this older film camera. But way more than that, I'm happy with these photos because I got out of my comfort zone a bit and just talked with people on the street.