I’ve been wanting to do street photography or street portraits for so long. It’s exciting, spontaneous photography and it really forces you to get out of your comfort zone and experiment – the more you experiment, the more you learn. I’ve read a number of how-to-do-street-photography articles that recommend some strange techniques for street photography, such as ‘pretending’ to photograph something else before actually photographing a person, or using a long zoom lens so you can photography people without them knowing, but none of this has ever sat comfortably with me. Putting myself in someone else’s shoes, if a random guy took a photo of me as I was walking down the street, I’d probably get at least a little defensive and ask him what he is doing. So I decided I wanted to do it the old fashioned way: Take your time, talk to people and ask for their permission.

I’ve been keeping my eye on the ‘Humans of New York‘ facebook posts, and admired the wonderful stories Brandon (the website’s founder and photographer) has been able to tell through those seemingly simple street portraits. He is a talented guy who makes the whole process of connecting, talking to, interviewing and taking photos of complete strangers look amazingly effortless. I’ve wanted to do the same for a while now.. not because I mean to copy Brandon, but because I want to practice connecting with people. It also doesn’t hurt that I believe in similar principles: People are fascinating and everyone has their own story to tell.

I’m not going to pretend that I’m doing this for any chivalrous reasons. I’m not trying to change the world with this or to start any sort of movement. For me, this is all about learning to connect quickly but meaningfully – something that I think gets harder and harder with age, and something that I believe is vital to any photographer to really stand out. Connection with someone you photograph makes all the difference to the end result. That awkwardness they feel toward you or the uncomfortable atmosphere in the air? That stuff reaaaaally shows in photos. Get that connection going and people will see and feel it. And you know what? If this work does happen to rub off on people and you just happen to make society that little bit happier and/or better, then that’s an awesome bonus.

So now I’ve hyped this up a bit, but hey – here is my very very modest start to street photography.

I met Jonte tonight purely by accident in the tattoo shop he was minding. Although he didn’t know me, he was happy for me to come in, take his photo and just chat with him for a while.

‘Sorry, I’m a little tired today’, he explained, before talking about his own tattoo art.

‘I like doing the drawings physically. I only use the computer to clean stuff up a bit, but mostly it’s the physical’.

We spoke for about 10 minutes and I was trying my hardest to remember what he was saying – those of you who know me, know how bad my memory is. All the while I was just ecstatic to actually be doing this. I walked away from Jonte and the tattoo shop on a high.