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How to live life to the full: NOWportrait

On Saturday NOWportrait visited the Leeds Waterfront Festival to inspire people to be out meeting strangers around the waterfront. It was such a fantastic day and NOWportrait photographers are posting their photos as I type! Pop over to the NOWportrait Facebook group to see who everyone met…

I want to introduce you to Robert. I met him when I arrived at Leeds Station – I saw his bike and and thought ‘Le Grand Depart!’. Robert was on his way out for a day trip but had ten minutes before he caught his train. We had a great chat and Robert told me his amazing story  and how he was alive despite all odds. He is now someone having adventures and creating exciting goals for himself, and completely living life to the full, every single day. What a way to live life!

I was so happy to have met Robert and felt inspired for the rest of the day. Meeting him reminded me that stepping out of your comfort zone and taking a risk creates all sorts of possibilities in your life and he reminded me of why NOWportrait exists! Saying hello to someone new and taking 10 minutes for a chat is inspirational. Give it a try!

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Robert – NOWportrait by Lucy Williams
I saw Robert at Leeds Station and asked if I could take a portrait of him and his bike because in a few days time Leeds is hosting Le Grand Depart for the Tour de France and I liked the bike link. Robert had the most amazing story. Three years ago he had a terrible accident which left him in a coma and fighting for life. He used to be a champion cyclist and rode all over the world and his surgeons said he’d never be able to do that again. But, he was determined! Despite all odds he’s back on his bike and living each day like it’s his last. I asked what was on his list of things to achieve. He told me ‘well, I’ve never been married!!!’ He’s also planning to cycle all the way around Australia next year. He’s the first person I’ve met today in Leeds and I’m so pleased to have met him. What an inspiration!

If you live in London and would love to come along to a meet up – you’re in luck. On July 6th we have our 3rd NOWportrait meet up and we’ll be starting from Lancaster Gate. It’s a great way to meet like-minded people and to share the strangers you meet! Check out the event page to register and join in.

And join the conversation in the Facebook group, and on Twitter or Instagram #NOWportrait.

If you’d like to organise your own NOWportrait meet up where you live, drop us a line and we’ll support you to do that wherever you are.

If you like this post you might also like to see NOWportrait London meet up 2: Chinatown/ Soho 

 

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NOWportrait & the people of Chinatown & Soho

Last Sunday we held our second NOWportrait London meet up. It was wonderful to meet new people – those who’d come along to take part in NOWportrait, and all of the people we met as we walked through the streets of Chinatown and Soho. And there were challenges! It can be very nerve wracking to approach a stranger and begin a chat and one of the most fantastic things about the meet ups is being with like-minded people who are enthusiastic and supportive and doing the same thing.

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Sophy – NOWportrait by Lucy Williams
Sophy picks up the newspapers for her dad on the weekends, she was in a hurry because she was rushing to pick up her son from Chinese school. I asking her for her photo because she looked so bright and cheerful in her shades. To be honest, I could see she was in a rush and I thought she’d say no. I’m really glad she didn’t.

Come and meet the strangers we met as they get posted in the Facebook group and join in the conversation with the NOWportrait community. And when you’re out and about this week take a risk and say hello to someone new! Share who YOU meet in the Facebook group, and on Twitter or Instagram #NOWportrait.

And if you’d like to organise your own NOWportrait meet up where you live, drop us a line and we’ll support you to do that wherever you are.

If you like this post you might also like to see NOWportrait London meet up 1: Leather Lane/ Whitecross Street

 

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Things to do in London this weekend

Are you looking for something fun, challenging and creative to do in London this weekend? Then look no further! Come and join us on our second ever London meet up when we’ll be doing a NOWportrait photo walk around Soho and Chinatown on Sunday June 8th. It’ll be an amazing opportunity to come together and support each other, and we’re sure to meet lots of interesting strangers to photograph en route too.

In fact the whole weekend looks like being a lot of fun in London with the Gumball Rally pulling in to Regent’s Street on Sunday (catch some celebrity NOWportraits!), Field Day over in Victoria Park, East London for festival-goer NOWportraits, Soho Food Feast for foodie NOWportraits and perhaps some Penny Farthing cyclist NOWportraits at Jupiter London Nocture? It looks like summer has officially started and we can’t wait to see who you meet!

Meet Anna, Vicolo, Frank and Clive, all living or working in London…

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Anna – NOWportrait by Fiona Yaron-Field
Anna has just arrived from Russia to London this week. she has come to do an MA in Business. She comes to the cafe opposite her home to eat as she doesn’t want to eat alone in her flat. We all, the staff and customers, got chatting in the cafe, it was so nice to meet everyone!

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Vicolo – NOWportrait by Kate Boswell
It was his tribal look, the smooth way in which he walked and his height that first draw me to him. After a chat I found out he had been up all night doing an event for a band. He had just bought some cheese from the market and was on his way home to relax for the day.

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Frank – NOWportrait by Lucy Williams
I’d been up early to watch the sunrise over London and I’d asked two strangers if I could take their photos. They both said no so I was really pleased when Frank said yes! Frank is working on a new office build at Kings Cross and he’d just popped to the hardware store in Camden to pick something up. He lives on the south coast by the sea, which he loves, and commutes into London every day to work. It takes an hour and 45mins but he thinks it’s worth it to live somewhere lovely. He told me that the new areas in Kings Cross are billed to be ‘the Manhattan of London’ when it’s all finished.

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Clive – NOWportrait by Richfoto
I met this gentleman Clive earlier, who was running his market stall right by Shoreditch Overground. He was selling watches, musical instruments & the camera he was holding. – ME: “How long have you been on the market Clive…?” CLIVE: “Too long….”

For our meet up on Sunday we’ll be meeting outside The Curzon Cinema on Shaftesbury Ave in Soho at 11am – join in on the NOWportrait Soho event page to follow updates and to let us know you’re coming. You’ll just need to bring:

1. a sense of adventure
2. camera / camera phone
3. notebook/ smartphone: to keep a note of your stranger’s story & contact details
4. appropriate comfortable shoes/raincoat for being outdoors and walking a comfortable mile or so.

And if you’re out and about somewhere else in London or the world, why not join in NOWportrait too?  Remember to share the people you meet with the NOWportrait community by posting their portraits in the Facebook group, and on Twitter or Instagram #NOWportrait.

See you on Sunday!

If you’d like to organise your own NOWportrait meet up where you live, drop us a line and we’ll support you to do that wherever you are:  

And if you liked this post, you might also like to take a look at our blog post about our first NOWportrait meet up on London’s Leather Lane NOWportrait Meet Up 1: Leather Lane, London

 

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Facebook! Where everybody knows your name…

NOWportrait might seem like it’s about portrait photography, which of course, it is, BUT far more than that, it is about people and stories and connections.

I grew up in a village where everyone knew everybody (which had it’s downsides – my mum ALWAYS knew what I was up to). There were always smiles and hellos in the street, chats in the local shop, a friendly wave and a nod of the head, stories shared with people of all ages over a pint in the pub. There were also connections with strangers who you would inevitably find out knew someone that you knew. There was always a human bond. I see people forging those bonds online nowadays, which is an amazing way to connect with strangers all over the world and to share experiences, projects, hopes, dreams etc. But those in our non-online communities often remain strangers. Until we say reach out and say hello.

Below Fiona Yaron-Field, Kathryn Edwards, Jo Donaldson and Lisa Devlin met strangers very close to home. Though not strangers any more…

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Madaleine – NOWportrait by Fiona Yaron-Field
I walked out my house looking for a stranger, directly opposite me was a young woman sitting on the steps. I asked her if she’s be photographed and all about the project. She said it sounded great and she would love to. Her sister worked in art events within the mental health. Madeleine was locked out of her house. Turns out she has lived opposite me for four years and we have never before seen each other. I’ve met a stranger and a neighbour.

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Greer – NOWportrait by Kathryn Edwards
This is Greer. She lives at the end of my road. We’ve never met. She has lived in her house for 7 years. Greer is a Celtic name, although she was born and bred in Nottingham. She was cleaning her doorstep. She is moving to North Wales. They have decided to rent a house in the countryside and get away from the corporate world. Sounds good to me.

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Callum – NOWportrait by Jo Donaldson
I was too ill to get out and about for #NOWportrait but luckily my flatmate had these two over to watch the rugby. Strangers to me at first, so it counts, lovely to meet them too, turns out Callum’s wife Jen is a florist in the wedding industry – Wildflower Florist. Mini networking and photoshoot from the comfort of my couch!

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Billie – NOWportrait by Lisa Devlin
Meet Billie. I thought she was a stranger but it turns out that she lives on my road so now we are friends. What Billie likes most in this world is cake so there are two things we have in common…

This weekend is World Neighbours’ Day (dates vary around the world) and the perfect time to step out of your comfort zone, take part in NOWportrait and to have a chat and take a portrait of the strangers in your local community. The aim of  Neighbours’ Day is to:

  • Strengthen communities and build better relationships with the people who live around us
  • Create safer, healthier and more vibrant living surroundings
  • Promote tolerance, respect and understanding

Your neighbours are a great way to start and who knows where that connection will lead…

Come along and meet the NOWportrait online community in real life – our next meet up is on Sunday June 8th in Soho and we’d love to see you there. Follow us on our Facebook page to find out how you can get involved.

Share your experiences and the people you meet with the NOWportrait community – POST your NOWportraits in the Facebook group, TWEET them on Twitter or SHARE them on Instagram #NOWportrait. Lastly, leave a comment below and tell us your story of  meeting a stranger who has now become a friend.

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NOWportrait inspires connections with strangers through photography

Hello and welcome to #NOWportrait!

I don’t know about you, but it struck me that we pass so many people by without even noticing them; neighbours, people in the local community, people we see in the same train carriage, every single day, for years. Maybe there’s a glance of recognition between each other, perhaps a shy hello, but how often do we start a conversation?  Maybe we’re heading to a future where our daily chats with strangers only ever take place in online communities like Twitter or Facebook.

NOWportrait aims to change that future, one stranger at a time…

NOWportrait is based on a simple idea; meet a stranger, have a conversation, photograph a portrait, capture their story and share!

The project was launched on March 8th 2014 and during that weekend 37 photographers took part and met and photographed over 70 strangers, all over the UK and as far away as Iraq.

Meet some of those people below…

 

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“This is Kenneth enjoying the glorious sunshine at his beach hut in Bournemouth. He’s 90, a widow – he’s lost 2 wives, one at the age of 23…. I was the first person he spoken to all day! So handsome, so dignified – so pleased I met him!” – NOWportrait by Kate Williams

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“Meet Billie. I thought she was a stranger but it turns out that she lives on my road so now we are friends. What Billie likes most in this world is cake so there are two things we have in common…” – NOWportrait by Lisa Devlin

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“Meet Carlos & his parrot Leo. Leo is an 18 month old African Grey parrot and was out on his first ever walk. I met them in Crystal Palace Park where Carlos was introducing Leo to the great outdoors. Leo wasn’t such a fan of his red lead and was much more interested in trying to take it off rather than pose for his photo. Carlos was a little nervous about their first outing together but they were doing great. We actually created a bit of interest when I was taking their photo, I think other people in the park thought there was something special going on…not just a photographer photographing a stranger!” – NOWportrait by Katy Thomson

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“Ian was playing passionately on bodhrán during a Scottish music jam at a local pub.” – NOWportrait by Neil Thomas Douglas

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“Arsenal were playing and Jaiden and his great grandmother Jackie went up the park to play football because Arsenal is Jaiden’s favourite team. When I met them they were on their way back home for tea.” – NOWportrait by Lucy Williams

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“John loves Parliament Hill Lido and goes as much as he possibly can. It felt like a warm summers day but the water is still a nippy 9c and it’s johns first day swimming without his thermal boots and gloves” – NOWportrait by Hannah Elbourne

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“This is Julie, she works at the venue where we shot our first wedding of 2014. She is beautiful. She is brave. She has made my heart glad that I asked if I could take her photo.” – NOWportrait by Charis Warrell

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“Liz and John had just dropped off their grandchildren and were going for a walk before a meal out with their family in the evening. Liz had ice cream on her face, John tried to clean it off but she wasn’t worried about it, because it would tell you something about the day.” – NOWportrait by Camera Hannah

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“I walked out my house looking for a stranger. directly opposite me was a young woman sitting on the steps. I asked her if she’s be photographed and all about the project. She said it sounded great and she would love to. Her sister worked in art events within the mental health. Madeleine was locked out her house. Turns out she has lived opposite me for four years and we have never before seen each other. I’ve met a stranger and a neighbour.” – NOWportrait by Fiona Yaron-Field

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“I approached Pranavi while she was doing her shopping in Wellington.” – NOWportrait by Becky Joiner

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“This is a portrait of a member of the Iraq army that act as security at high level buildings including the UN Compound here in Erbil, Iraq. I have been dying to take a photo but always been told no, until now. Unfortunately, because I don’t speak any Kurdish I couldn’t even get his name.” – NOWportrait by April Coetzee

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“This is Cerys, my little boy Toby (he’s 5) took her photo and asked what would be the one thing she could change in the world and she said cancer because her friend is fighting it at the moment” – NOWportrait by Toby Williams

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“Here is Martin Wesley-Veale who was playing an electronic keyboard in the tunnel at Braithwaite Street. Imagine a way more upbeat Joy Division. Anyway, such a nice bloke. He didn’t realise London was actually enduring a tropical heatwave as he’d been in the shade all day. – ME: “How shall I describe you?” MWV: “I’m a musician. I play music.” – NOWportrait by Richard Chambury

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“This is Janet from Ealing, West London. I met her at Paddington Station, I noticed her because of that wonderful bright red jacket. She was watching everyone go by and told me she liked to look at what people were wearing, that it was a such shame everyone dressed in such drab colours. Janet was waiting to meet a friend who was about to become a grandmother for the first time. Since Janet was already one several times over (she’s 81 you know!) she was going to give some advice on the matter. She was such a lovely bright eyed lady. If you don’t already know about the @NOWportrait project go check it out. I’m now addicted.” – NOWportrait by Katharine Peachey

Featured photographers:

Kate WilliamsLisa DevlinKaty ThomsonNeil Thomas-DouglasLucy WilliamsHannah ElbourneCharis WarrellCamera HannahFiona Yaron-FieldBecky JoinerApril Coetzee, Toby Williams, Rich FotoKatharine Peachey

 

How does NOWportrait work?

The concept is easy!  Meet a stranger + say hello + capture a story + take a portrait + share!

Anyone with a camera can take part, whether it be a camera phone, a compact camera, a dSLR or film camera. You don’t have to be a professional photographer, in fact our youngest participant is 5 and took his portrait on a children’s digital tablet.

NOWportrait is all about having a chat and making a connection with someone unexpected. Even if they say no to a photo you might find that you end up having an amazing chat – and that’s great!  If you do get a yes, have a chat whilst you take their photo and find out something interesting about the person you’re photographing.

Finally, share your photo with your stranger and let them know you’ll also be sharing it online in the #NOWportrait Facebook group

If you prefer to use Instagram (or another image sharing platform/ app), please do share there too!

Hashtag your photographs #nowportrait

 

Here’s what people are saying about their NOWportrait experiences…

OMG!!! It was one of the hardest/ most awesome things I’ve ever done!! I’ve read your posts and as momentum picked up towards the weekend I wanted to be part of it but probably only by ” liking” the Facebook page! And then I got it! And did it!! My heart swells/breaks when I look at the photo… and I cry! I don’t know if the tears are for me or him… totally unbelievable experience – Kate

My stranger said “thank you for emailing the photograph. I am on my way back home and guess what? First thing I will do on reaching is show this photograph to my husband. I love what you are doing. I’m happy that you approached me on the other evening'” I am so happy, I now totally get this project!” – Becky

Thank you for creating such an wonderful project! I’m totally inspired to go out and meet some more strangers. It was scary but so very rewarding ~ Zoe

It’s awesome! I absolutely love the thrill of asking someone if I can take their portrait and I am always amazed at the brilliantly interesting and sometimes little details you pick up from speaking with someone for the first time. Everyone i have asked has been so lovely and not at all put off by the idea. For me it doesn’t end this weekend I am going to continue taking peoples portraits, strangers who catch my eye for whatever reason ~ Kate

 

How did NOWportrait begin?

I’m Lucy Williams, I’m 41 and a wedding & portrait photographer  and I set up NOWportrait in February 2014.

I’d been shooting a stranger photography project for myself which I’d started started because I was petrified to do it! I knew the only way to conquer the fear was to face it head on. At first it was very scary and I walked past the first person I photographed 5 times before I plucked up the courage to chat with him. I quickly realised that meeting someone new was an uplifting experience and the sense of connection I got after chatting with someone, even for just 5 mins, was immense.

I began to share my stranger portraits in my Instagram gallery and received many comments from other people on Instagram saying they wished they were brave enough to meet and photograph strangers too.  I thought if there was a project that inspired people to do just that it would be brilliant.  And NOWportrait was born.

NOWportrait has grown to a small team of people including Richard Chambury, Cally Sheard and Kate Boswell and we are very excited about creating a space for people who are meeting and photographing strangers to connect with other people doing the same thing, all over the world.

 

What next?

NOWportrait is a growing community of people meeting strangers and sharing online in the Facebook group. We also hold regular meet ups for people to get together and share the NOWportrait experience.  And later this year (2014) there will be an exhibition and photobook of selected portraits taken during the launch of the project (March 8-10th) Both the prints and the book will be available to buy and all profits will be donated to support UK mental health charity MIND.

 

Why support a mental health charity and why MIND in particular?

I wanted to raise money for MIND because I experienced depression for most of my twenties and early thirties and I remember feeling like a stranger in my own life, and alone, even though I was surrounded by people who loved me.

Stephen Fry, President of MIND, talks about feeling loneliness in his blog post:

http://www.stephenfry.com/2013/06/24/only-the-lonely/

MIND provides advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem. They campaign to improve services, raise awareness and promote understanding.

Taking 10 minutes to talk to a stranger could change someone’s life forever. And taking a creative risk, getting out of your comfort zone and connecting with a stranger could change yours.


The future…

NOWportrait aims to be a global community of people connecting with people through photography, with events to meet up with others and opportunities to raise money for mental health charities around the world.


How can I be involved?

Head over to the NOWportrait Facebook page and LIKE us.

Join the conversation in our NOWportrait  Facebook group

Grab your camera and join in the project for yourself. Share your portraits and stories with the community in the NOWportrait group  (and on your favourite image sharing apps like Instagram) Hashtag all your NOWportraits #nowportrait

And lastly, share the project with everyone you know, especially those who are up for a creative challenge, meeting new people and would love to shape a new future through photography.