So after spending 3 months in Los Angeles for work I was finally back on home soil and ready to shoot my first Australian stranger. So on my first weekend after being back in the country I went into the CBD of Melbourne to do some shopping, and a spot of stranger shooting 🙂 It was here that I found Benny – Stranger #14.
After walking around in a nice warm L.A. summer in thongs (or ‘flip flops’ for those not in Australia) for the last 3 months, I was quickly in need of some new shoes as the colder Melbourne weather wasn’t so forgiving. I headed into a shoe store in search of some new Vans and was greeted by Benny. “Back again” he said. This wasn’t the first time we had said hello today as I was in the store earlier but had been scoping out prices at other stores as well, little did he know that he was also on my list for this project. I showed him the pair of shoes I was after, told him my size and within a few seconds he was back with a pair ready for me to try on.
It took all of 20 seconds for me to say “Yes, I’ll take them”. He then noticed my camera and asked what I was shooting. I told him about the project and how I’d like him to be apart of it. He was ‘stoked’ and said yes straight away, although he questioned that he might not be as good as others that I’d already taken. His rugged, un-tamed surfy hair, skaters cap and facial hair was already a noticeable feature for me so it was an easy decision to include him in the project.
Now for the third shot in a row in the project I was under the conditions of horrible indoor lighting. Like shots before I managed to find a space where the lighting was relatively even across his face, but room to move and choice of backgrounds was certainly not something I had much of an option for. We were in a tight space, with loads of people filling up the store and I had to be quick. So with the 50mm I got Benny up against the cleanest background I could and shot away. There were ‘SALE’ signs covering every inch of the shop so getting them as apart of the photo was unavoidable, but it also helps tell a little bit of the story with this portrait.
After a quick couple of shots, and with his workmates making the ‘don’t smile’ shot so very much harder for him, we were done. Ben, or Benny as he likes to be known is a skater, a surfer, and also a musician when he’s not selling quality shoes. He is a member of a band called Brittle as a guitarist and vocalist and also in a band called Vizzy Tore which he started with another Ben. Have a listen if you have time, these boys are good!
So thank you Benny for being the first Australian in my 100 Strangers project thus far and all the best with your musical career. Also, thanks for the new kicks!