Portraits of Strangers on the Street

Portraits of Strangers on the Street

Taking nice portraits in a studio setting requires a great skill set and understanding of how to set up lights. Doing the same thing, but on the street with complete strangers takes the skill one step further. Benoit Paillé, Quebec based photographer, recently released images from his latest project titled, "Stranger Project" in which he breaks the norm of "not speaking or disturbing" strangers in order to create stunning portraits on the street.

Paille, whose surreal landscapes photos have been featured before on Fstoppers, says the project started in 2007 when he decided he wanted to take portraits of strangers on the street. But rather than doing it hidden or from the hip (as I recently did on my trip to New York) he would talk to the people and let them know what he was up to and get them on board. His goal was to "break the individualism and anonymity of the big city" reaching out to people "break the usual way this modern world works." Currently he is up to 222 photographs of strangers and eventually looks to publish a book with the photos and stories from each encounter. 

[Via Behance - Stranger Project]

Trevor Dayley's picture

Trevor Dayley (www.trevordayley.com) was named as one of the Top 100 Wedding Photographers in the US in 2014 by Brandsmash. His award-winning wedding photos have been published in numerous places including Grace Ormonde. He and his wife have been married for 15 years and together they have six kids.

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I like this a lot...nice framing, perfect sharpness and above all, honest...

Man I freaking LOVE street photography. The emotions capture are always raw.

really love the post-processing in these. great stuff.

Check THIS dude out - his street photography shots are unreal! http://www.flickr.com/photos/wefwef/sets/

or: "when sharpening goes too far"

Ye.... sharpening is really obvious here. 

Wow, my love of street photography has been renewed. These are just great

Big props! I have been wanting to do this for a long time now. I finally got the courage while out in Hawaii to get a few shots of a random Hawaiian surfer before he went out on the surf. I first asked him what he was waiting for as he looked out and he replied "Chritmas" and took off into the water. Check out a few shots here. 
http://500px.com/photo/7018120http://500px.com/photo/7018115Wish I could do it more!

Hi Andrew, your links not working, broken!!

These are absolutely stunning. 

Awesome shots, the Flickr group 100 Strangers Project is about the same sort of thing. I have to get back to working on mine, it certainly pushes you out of your box and comfort zone to do it.


Did the writer really just say that street photography requires more skill than studio photography?

Without even bothering to click his profile, I guarantee he's either a wedding photographer or outdoor family photographer. 

I'd bet the entire contents of my studio on it. 

JP - Good call. I am a full time wedding photographer but I do quite a bit of studio work as well. I am not putting down studio photographers by any means. It definitely requires talent to set up lights correctly and nail everything to get the perfect picture. What I was trying to say in this article is that the photographer here, Benoit, nailed amazing lighting in all kinds of outdoor locations which to me says a lot about the guys talents. I am very familiar with lighting (studio and outdoor) and this guy's work stood out to me. You are welcome to view my own portfolio at www.trevordayley.com.

Very nice, I'm loving the Bokeh on these shots, any guess as to what lens he's rocking out with? I'm sure full frame as well helps that bokeh even more

These flipping rock.

These are amazing and exactly the kind of thing I'd love to do. It's a pity I don't get a lot of time to be in the city at the moment.

They look like MF to me, or at least f/1.4. I'd love to know some more details about some of these; the lighting, in particular.

I did his workshop on a spur the moment thing whilst in London. You can see my shots from that weekend here https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.247982618576410.56071.10829495...
I highly recommend it to anyone... the PS side is not really aimed at beginners... I don't know that much, but enough to get by - and he eleborates on everything!! in his workshop.

It's amazing to go from having no balls to be able to produce something of worth for yourself or for at least the people you photograph. It's all due to Benoit. I would take it again given the chance!

35mm f2

But that detail is irrelevant ;) All I had was a 2.8.

You had some pretty good shots in there! Really liked some of your pictures which had similar kind of feel to them as Benoit

As above - loving the processing and DoF/Bokeh - although it looks un-real sometimes. Wonder if it's some funky lens or added in post....

V talented either way.

When you nail the right mix of foreground, midground, and background the depth of field looks incredibly unreal. He isn't adding it in post he is just nailing it.  

Absolutely gorgeous portraits! The technical side is top notch, but something that he catches in their eyes that strikes me the most.

Checkout Thomas Leuthard in 500px.
Candid portraits of strangers on the streets.


Stunning work! Love the freckled girl!

Love these. The ones taken on the street actually remind me of The Sartorialist. More fashion oriented.

Wow, just wow! Please make more hehe!

He has a great eye for balance and l love his lighting! 

Great series.

Great idea & work

How is this considered to be 'street photography' if the people are posing for the photos?

My understanding is that 'street photography' is photos taken of people in the street as they are and unposed.

The ten most inane discussion topics about street photography. 1. Starting with the old chestnut, "is such and such street photography?"https://www.facebook.com/twocutedogs

He used a ND and shot daytime with very fast lenses. That is the technical side. The artistic side now, this is some really good work that I really dig. The artist really has a vision. 

I would LOVE a tutorial about that beautiful post-processing in those.
Probably it's all about the eyes.
Awesome article!

Don't ask Benoit a question like "what lens did you use". Other wise you will bore him. :p personality of a cardboard box. 

Worth linking his Flickr account I think.


Doesn't the Sartorialist do this a lot??

"Meaningless and Exploitative Portraits of Strangers on the Street"

There, fixed that for you.

Yeah this work is superb! I love the changes in very whitened-key to the darker mood in processing. Not often you see someone go so varied in style like that. Love it!