4. stranger (ds106 #1.1)

So yesterday morning I was trying to do my first ds106 assignment and I realized there was one fundamental flaw to my attempt to do the “Return to the Scene of the Crime” assignment: the photo I had brought with me (because it’s one of the few printed photos I have) was shot with my Superheadz Clover toy camera, which has a len focal length of about 22 mm. Basically, the camera then sees things differently from your eye – kind of further back? So in trying to hold my photo up in front of the original scene, I found it impossible to match it up against my surroundings. Pah. Please refresh and try again later.

Hello dramatic 50 mm front focus.

Anyway, since the camera was already in tow (the 50 mm weighs a lot more than today’s AF lenses, since it’s made out of… some sort of metal rather than plastic) I figured I could get started on the other assignment I had planned on doing, the Stranger Portraits.

Take a portrait of a total stranger each day for 7 days. Try to capture their image in a way that gives the viewer a deeper understanding of the person. Write a little about how you approached the person and what you learned about them. This assignment is part photography challenge but the harder part, in my opinion, is forcing yourself to interact with strangers in a fairly personal way.

This is Mr. Kobayashi.

My friend and I met him while we were in Ikebukuro having sushi for dinner; Mr. Kobayashi happened to be sitting next to us at the restaurant (really great little place across from the Seibu department store, I used to go there a lot when I lived in the neighborhood.) He struck up a conversation with us, and we were both amazed that he not only spoke great English (with a very nice accent that he had picked up from his British professor in university) but also Korean! He had learned a bit when he was a student, when he was a tutor for the child of a South Korean family in Tokyo, and then had studied more on his own through tapes and TV programs.

My friend happens to be Korean, and I have just recently come back from four months in Seoul, so we talked a bit back and forth in English, Japanese and Korean. I love conversation where there’s more than one language going; it can be confusing – you need to keep your mind sharp – but it’s really delightful, like when one of you can’t seem to find the right word, and another can supply it in another language. This is where I tell you that I’m a language geek and happen to know six of them (though none of them perfectly fluently.) We also talked a bit about movies. Mr. Kobayashi quite likes a Korean actress named Bae Doo Na. For a moment there neither he nor my friend could remember her name – “She’s well-known in Japan too,” said Mr. Kobayashi, “the one in Linda! Linda! Linda!

“Bae Doo Na!” Do I get bonus points? I haven’t seen much of her work, but I saw L!L!L! and another one of her films, an really great one called Please Take Care of My Cat. It’s the kind of subtle coming-of-age movie that I love.

Right now Mr. Kobayashi is studying tea ceremony. He’s also hoping Bae Doo Na makes more movies in Japan.

The Process: Shot with Nikon D3000 + 50 mm manual focus, with ISO 400, f/ 2 and shutter speed 1/250 in Nikon NEF format. Post-process in Capture NX2. Kindly asked Mr. Kobayashi if I could have a photo of him (I also took a polaroid of him with my friends, another diner took one of the three of us.) For some reason Mr. Kobayashi preferred being photographed with his beanie (he put it back on specifically after I asked) which, I don’t know, I though he looked good without it. But we all have our insecurities and/or preferences.

And no I don’t know how to submit this. Pah.


3 thoughts on “4. stranger (ds106 #1.1)

  1. I can’t imagine asking a stranger permission to take a portrait shot.

    I loved reading your account of the time you and your friend spent together with Mr. Kobayashi. This is beautiful and sweet story.

    And the photography you keep sharing continues to amaze.

  2. I agree with Professor Lockman with the point that I won’t be able to ask a stranger to take a portrait shot…it’s going to be real hard… :S

    But I loved both of your picutres and the story with Mr.Kobayashi!! It’s amazing how you can speak Korean!! I love kpop and Korea in general so I’m trying to learn Korean on my own…but it’s not working out 😦

    I’m looking foward to more of your amazing photography!! πŸ˜€

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