5 Day Street Portrait Challenge

Once again, I was nominated in another one of these social media photo challenges.

I've said it before, but I've been reluctant in the past to take part - but the last challenge, the Black and White challenge was interesting to me because I'm not really good at working in monochrome. For that challenge I decided to take 5 new shots and try my best to make them look good in monochrome. In the end, I thought a few of the images were good, but a few weren't very good. 

This challenge is something I'm really interested in. I knew from the outset though that street photography doesn't get a lot of social media love - but it is an area of photography where I'd like to see a lot of my personal work going. 

Street photography if you are unaware is more or less just candid shots of people being themselves. There is no posing and usually no advanced notice before you press the shutter button - it is an area of photography where you just observe people in their natural environment. 

Street photography takes a bit of courage on the part of the photographer when interacting with subjects and thats the area that I admittedly need to work on the most. 

The challenge is called "The Face Off Challenge" and the rules are that you have to post a shot each day taken on the street and it must be a portrait. 

I wanted to take part in the challenge, but I also have a few other projects on the go, so I decided that instead of shooting new photos each day for this challenge that I would instead go into the archives of street shots from my travels in South East Asia, China and Nepal.

I had so many street shots from Nepal that I thought were strong enough and deserved an updated look, so all of my shots ended up coming from my amazing trip to the small country in 2011.  

The most difficult part of this challenge however is that instead of nominating one friend each day, I had to nominate two - which forced me to go through my Facebook friends list to see who wasn't already participating and consider whether street photography was their thing or not.

I was mildly successful in getting a few people to take the challenge - and for the people who didn't take the challenge, I completely understand. I think that this will probably be the last one I take part in for foreseeable future. 

Here are my posts for the five days of the challenge: 

Day 1 - Newari Man in Patan Square (2011) 

- A Nepali man taking an afternoon break in Patan Square just outside of Kathmandu, Nepal. 

Day 2 - Newari Man in Bhaktapur (2011) 

- A Nepali potter taking a cigarette break on a hot day in Bhaktapur, Nepal

Day 3 - A Tibetan Buddhist Monk in the hills of Pokhara (2011) 

- A Tibetan Buddhist monk in exile looking towards the Annapurna Mountain range

Day 4 -  Nepali Hindu in a temple in Kathmandu (2011)

- A Hindu man in Kathmandu preparing to eat an orange outside of a temple. 

 Day 5 - Nepali man in Kathmandu (2011) 

- A Nepali man outside of his house in Kathmandu with his drying clothing. 


An extra shot - Shenkeng Old Street (深坑老街) 

While this 5 day challenge was going on I have been working on other projects. I did a couple of hikes just outside of Taipei and on my way back home I decided to stop in the remodelled Shenkeng Old Street (深坑老街) just outside of Taipei City which is an area famous for its stinky tofu (臭豆腐.)  

The street is full of tourists - Its actually quite the tourist trap if you ask me.

It has shop after shop selling all kinds of stinky tofu and related foods - including stinky tofu flavoured ice cream. 

Being that Shenkeng has tourists all over the place, you'd think that a "No Photo" policy would be a pretty strange thing to have - especially if you're running a business there. I've been in places in Nepal and South East Asia that were culturally sensitive areas and photography wasn't permitted. I've respected those areas and didn't take any shots. 

As I was walking by this particular store though, I held my camera up to my eye and noticed through the lens that this guy had "No Photo" signs in Chinese and in English all over his store front.

I quickly snapped one shot and then noticed the boss waving in my face saying in broken English: "No Photo, No Photo." 

I stopped for a second and gave a very disapproving look and then took another photo and went on my way which really irritated him.

You might be thinking I'm a bad guy for not respecting his wishes - but I find it quite ironic that his shop was the least busy of all the shops around him and yet he thought it prudent to put up no less than five "No Photo" signs in his store front.

I'm not insisting that his lack of business is directly due to his "No Photo" policy, but I'm sure standing outside the shop waiting for someone to click a picture and waving in their faces and scolding them for doing something quite natural isn't very helpful either. 

There is some misinformation about the legality of street photography. Its commonly believed by non-photographer types that taking photos of people, buildings, bridges, police, etc. is illegal. This isn't the case. 

I was fully within my rights to take a shot of this guys store whether he liked it or not. You have to use your common sense when taking photos though, if someone doesn't want their picture taken, you shouldn't violate their privacy as a common courtesy. I could have give this guy the courtesy of not bothering, but there was no reason not to take the shot. It didn't turn out that interesting anyway. 

For more information on the legality of street photography you should read this blog.


That's it for yet another photo challenge. Even if you're not a fan of street photography, I hope you enjoyed the photos that I shared. Nepal really is a special country and I will be back as soon as I have the chance! 

If you liked the shots I posted you can see the full collection of images from my trip to Nepal on my Flickr. Just click the link and enjoy!