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Saturday was a good day.

A good friend–and one of my favorite people to photograph–was in town last weekend; as I hadn’t seen her in over four years, a day of shooting was definitely in order (and indeed planned from the very moment she emailed me about her trip, months ago).

As the day slowly turned into one of those warm, lazy June Saturdays, we decided to go for a more lifestyle feel to the shoot than hard fashion. Instead of severe and dramatic poses and looks, “casual and relaxed” felt more the order of the day. We met up in the Village and aimlessly wandered southward, popping into random cafes or shops here and there.

The thing I love most about photographing friends is that it gives you a nice, relaxed environment to have fun with. As effective a teacher as pressure may be, it’s good to have a no-pressure space to experiment in. For example, I was able to finally test my iPad + Eye-Fi + Photosmith combo out in the field, and I have to say that it’s an absolute winner that makes me all the hungrier for the d800. Nothing screams The Future! more than walking around taking pictures for an hour or so, then sitting down at a cafe and pulling out your iPad so that you can review the shots. The whole Eye-Fi / iPad combo is hardly anything new, but it’s new-to-me, and and with Photosmith in the mix, my workflow is infinitely better.

I also got a chance to take more Brenizer panos and experiment with the method some. I’m still feeling out some of the tricks and best ways to get the shots, but the results are getting better and better and I’m walking away with more winners. I’m still getting the occasional loser as well, but they’ve been pretty good learning experiences (lesson learned here: you can’t take a Brenizer in moving traffic)

On top of all of this, the day was also a great opportunity for me to do more street portraiture. At some point between 1999 and today, I became much shier about approaching strangers and asking to take their photographs. I used to be able to walk up to almost anyone and ask if they minded if I photographed them. Sometimes they said yes and I shot them, sometimes they said no and I moved on. But in the last ten years I’ve gotten more timid at approaching strangers, and while I don’t really know when it started, I do know that it bugs the hell out of me and I’ve been trying to overcome it.

I only shot two strangers — artist Hulbert Waldroup, and Sylvia, the perfectly lovely server at the cafe whose name I’ve already completely forgotten — but it’s two more than I’d planned so I’ll call it a win. I think someday soon I’ll take a walk around Manhattan and not let myself go home until I’ve photographed at least ten interesting strangers. No better way to learn how to swim than to get unceremoniously dumped 100′ from shore and forced to make it back on your own, right?

Good company, good food, good drink, good streetwandering, and good photos. It was a good day indeed.

And I didn’t even have to use my A.K.

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