For budding photographers starting out with portraiture, finding models to practice with can be a challenge. Not all of us are blessed with good-looking friends or big funds to hire models from agencies. If you’re faced with this setback, today’s clever portrait project by Neil Kremer and Cory Johnson of Los Angeles-based Kremer Johnson Photography may inspire you.
Neil and Cory had a simple premise for their ongoing project, titled Craigslist Encounters. They ran a straightforward Craigslist advertisement looking for portrait subjects, keeping themselves open to “interesting people to photograph… all shapes races, genders and sizes are welcome.” Aside from providing a compensation of $20 per hour, they promised to come to their subjects at their convenience. The results provide a pretty interesting perspective to portrait photography.
I consider this project a success, not only because several people responded to their call-out, but also because they were able to create a different dimension to a portrait project. They could have just stopped people randomly in the street to continue their Angelenos project (a series of portraits around Los Angeles). Instead, they stepped up with an ad that demonstrates the effect of the context with something as straightforward as portraiture.
The way I see it, a lot of things could have gone wrong in this project. There’s a risk of the photos being too similar to the Angelenos series. No one could have responded to their call-out and the whole thing could have been a flop. They could have gotten shady subjects or bogus addresses. Still, more than just a set of portraits, this project can also be seen as a social experiment, or a peek into the kinds of images you can create when you make room for curiosity. How many people are willing to pose for a small fee? Why would they be willing to be photographed by total strangers? What about their lives or personalities can we see from this project?