Alter ego

It’s about something I heard on one of photography podcasts. The guest photographer was Chris Floyd – a British photographer and filmmaker who is best known for portraits of celebrities. 

Chris considers himself as an introvert person, awkward and uncomfortable amongst strangers but when he works with clients he becomes that other person who is extremely talkative, very engaging, doing small talk, full on interacting. He adopts his alter ego.

Being a bit of an introvert myself, I found this idea interesting. I wondered if I could translate this somehow into “street photography”.

I live in France and been speaking French for only about 5 years so as fluent as I am, I still make mistakes and sometimes misunderstand people which as a result caused me to avoid conversations on streets.

Maybe by finding and using an alter ego I could somehow forget and not worry too much about linguistic mistakes I make. I might find communicating with strangers on streets easier…

What do you think guys? Does it sound like a silly thing to do? Would like to hear your opinions.

city life-16.jpg

The photo above is not candid. The lady saw me taking photos from 20 meters or so and asked what I was photographing. I noticed her English accent and we spoke in English. She turned out to be a painter. I asked if I could make a few photos. I took about 5 or 6.

Thanks for stopping by,



31 comments on “Alter ego

  1. That’s a great portrait! Wonderful pose… she’s an artist, that’s obvious.

    As for developing an alter ego that’s totally at ease with interacting with strangers and photographing them… if you find the recipe, please tell me.

    That would be a great thing to overcome my timidity and even fright of photographing people. I often see people or scenes that would make great photographs and then I just walk by without lifting the camera to my eye.

    For me hidden iPhone snaps are not the right thing, they don’t feel right to me. But on the other hand I’m too scared to do it right, well mostly.

      • I know, with film I would also worry about cost of each click….hmm, maybe try old used cheap point and shoot…practice hip shooting with digital…and than try it with film camera…i was shooting from the hip whole summer…after couple of days my estimations improved and it happened to be accurate and very normal way of shooting…i was very surprised how close I got to the people..and they mostly didn’t notice me

      • Having a noisy shutter is another problem. If you have a silent one its great but if im up close and even when shoot from the hip they can hear the shutter and my hand on camera… So i look even creepier rather thsn honest

  2. Interesting stuff Yuri, I hope I put you on to A small voice. I thought that episode was particularly great. Chris Floyd is such an interesting character and I took a lot out of it even though I don’t take many portraits. It really made me want to take more though. Anyway the point.
    I know that for Speaking a foreign language, taking on a different persona is often linked with high proficiency. Many competent speakers say that they feel different when they speak in a different language and it makes sense. There are cultural norms and expectations in one language that you don’t have in others (even in British and American English). Being practical, I often feel more direct and gruff when I speak in Russian (becoming rustler as each day passes) but in Spanish I feel more outgoing and extrovert. I’m not sure about Polish, It does feel a bit different though.

    When I go out and do portraits, I like putting on a different persona, and when I’m around other street photographers I do get more daring as I don’t want to come across as to scared to get the shot. I got some business cards printed more recently to help with the “Photography Guy” persona. 😉

    • Thanks Chris, yes I think that was you who linked me with “A small voice” podcast – i really like it, cheers. Its so true what you’re saying about different languages and personas. I do notice that changes occur when i switch between the languages. It was just a thought that stuck with me after listening and I’d like to try it in practice the next time i’m out 🙂

      • How do you think your French persona is different to others? I think that’s pretty interesting to know. Thinking more about it now, I wonder if I should channel my more outgoing Spanish persona when shooting 😛

      • Well it goes with the whole package of integrating to French culture. Plus by not speaking grammatically correct you can sound rude and the French are very sensetive to that

      • I think Poles just accept that the grammar is tough so you’re not rude if you make a mistake 😀 I found Ukrainians loved it when I tried to speak Russian to them. Spanish people didn’t seemed bothered either way.

      • I agree. I would only be happy and encouraging if you spoke Russian to me. Most of the french will judge you and label you as just another foreigner…

      • I don’t know how the British are (in general) and I really wouldn’t want to say anything after a recent vote that occurred. I suspect where you go might lead to different reactions, and what accent you have. That makes me pretty sad but there you go.

  3. beautiful portrait Yuri !
    about this introvert person you are talking here.
    same with me – i’m very shy person and don’t like to enter a crowdy places with many strangers or people whom i know.. some time ago i started to work on myself and find that i can be definitely different part of me, talking with absolutely strangers, taking portrait of them, enjoying small and long talks.. this helped me to take photos of strangers and i just stopped to shoot candid portraits and in love with “staged” stuff now.
    about language. i moved to Israel in age 28 with “zero” level of Hebrew. the right way is to start to talk with people, despite mistakes, maybe better even to ask them to correct them. writing and reading not really helping – the only conversations if you want talk like local. after 23 years i still have strong accent but i think that this is my internal problem – same accent i have in English and i can’t lose it 🙂

    • Thanks for visiting and your story Victor. I think I just need to go with it. Posed portraiture is still new to me and i would like to explore the genre and approaching people further. I’m sure its so rewarding when you get THAT shot with THAT feeling that YOU wanted 🙂 You have shared lots of these Victor (im taking notes)

    • Accents are interesting things. Some studies suggest that people (on some level) want to keep their accent to show their origins…other studies show that it’s just really hard to make certain sounds if you don’t grow up listening to them so…who knows. I like to think that interacting with people in the street for posed photos is a way to learn…which should be more incentive to get out and shoot! Thanks for sharing your journey Victor

  4. i think i moved forward in talking to people…just a little bit…but before i started with photographing people i was totally shy…

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