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Summer 2013 and the FaCeS Project

So the summer has been a crazy busy wonderful photography adventure for me. I entered a National Geographic photography scholarship contest and drove myself, my partner and my friends absolutely batty waiting to find out that I didn't win the scholarship (see the entry here.) Then I decided to add a photography course at a local Art University to my already jam packed life/work schedule (interesting experience but one I'm not going to be repeating again). And then just because I don't believe in having any free time, I decided to challenge my identity as a travel/street/documentary photographer and committed myself to photographing 4 weddings this summer (a blog entry in and of itself). Then there was the best part of the entire summer photography experiences, and that was my FaCeS Project.

The FaCeS Project was something that came to fruition while I was reading about a collaborative photography project called the 5 Second Face. In this project 2 photographers walked the streets of Singapore and approached strangers with a request to share 5 seconds of their time and let them capture their portraits. If they said yes, a 5 Second Face was born. If they said no, they wished them well and moved on.

All of this was so inspiring and it made me think that I would have love to do something similar. And this was how the FaCeS project came to be. The goal is to approach and capture 52 individuals with distinct and interesting faces all in 52 weeks. An exciting and rewarding exercise in exploring my craft and pushing personal boundaries....

Have a look through the FaCeS gallery and see if you can spot what makes each face a unique beauty. The generosity and patience from each subject much very much appreciated.

So Zee rides along with me everyday in the hopes of capturing these 52 faces. And at the beginning of it all I was so frustrated with it. First there was the challenge of approaching a person and convincing them to trust you and let you capture their likeness. Once that challenge was conquered there was the business of putting Zee to work....and trust and believe she made it as difficult as possible (yes, yes I know that it isn't her and really a reflection of my ineptitude and lack of experience with her...but I like to blame her blog, my rules).

The first person I approached was a down and out gentleman I saw sat on the sidewalk. Beautiful face lined with deep craggy lines, wise eyes under bushy eyebrows and a gorgeous gray and white beard that just screamed "textures textures textures I wanna be photographed in black and white". I walked a full block past him before I convinced myself to come back and be vulnerable enough to ask him to be part of FaCeS. Now for those of you that don't know me, I work as a RN in a downtown hospital and I am more comfortable talking to this gentleman than say...a business man striding purposefully to his next meeting. So I walk up to him and do my introductory spiel...I'm a photographer...blah blah blah...can i take your picture. Bless him, he looked me dead in the eye and growls at me "Why the fuck would you want to take a picture of my face?". Without missing a beat the nurse in me throws back "Because I think you have a beautiful, interesting and distinctive face". His response "Oh....Ok then". Up went Zee and 4 snaps later I shook his hand said thanks and moved on. Alas this was back during Zee's troublesome days and the images didn't turn out anything like what I wanted...I'll spare you the rant. But the encounter still merits a mention because though it wasn't a full success it was one in its own way. Though I didn't capture that first face the way I wanted to, I comfort myself with the knowledge that I've run across and captured other faces that made me feel the same way.

Frustrated with some of the challenges I was having with Zee, I imposed on the generosity of one of my best friends who agreed to be a part of my FaCeS project. I was finding the feeling that I had to rush and make my captures without imposing on my subjects any further was making me more prone to making errors with Zee...aka Zee temper tantrums. So when Helen agreed to be my subject, I took my time, and Voila, my first FaCeS subject!

I was so tempted to impose on some of my other best friends to pad up my FaCeS portfolio, but that would defeat the purpose. So I became more vigilant, looking for those distinctive faces, and pushed myself to be brave enough to approach these strangers. And from it all came some interesting portraits and a record of some rather personal moments of resonance for me.

One of my favorite ones happened on a rather sad and heavy day. Walking down the street on the way to a friend's memorial I saw this woman who made me smile and had such an effect on my soul that I couldn't resist the urge to stop her and beg for her portrait. She was amazing, looked like she had just walked right out of the past. A paper umbrella thrown over her shoulder, gorgeous tailored 50s dress, make up and coiffure to match the persona and such sass in her step it was impossible fight the contagious joy she emitted. I think she told me her name was Arabella, and I'm ever so grateful to her because she was a joy to be around and an absolute gem to capture.

I could keep going but I’m sure you are getting the general gist of this. Every one of my FaCeS captures has an interesting and personal story that goes along with it. I would love to regale you with them all...but we don't have the time right now. One day soon I'll post about each picture one at a time. But for now head on over to my website FaCeS Project page and have a look at some of the people that have been generous enough to let me shove Zee in their faces.

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