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…
Kate Williams, Lisa Devlin, Katy Thomson, Neil Thomas-Douglas, Lucy Williams, Hannah Elbourne, Charis Warrell, Camera Hannah, Fiona Yaron-Field, Becky Joiner, April Coetzee, Toby Williams, Rich Foto, Katharine 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.
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:
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.
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.