Portraits of Strangers – an ongoing obsession

Whether it’s a Rolleiflex, a Holga, Pentax6x7 or an instant camera I have always enjoyed approaching people either in the street or at events (that’s a bit easier) and asking them if I can take their picture.

I don’t think I’ve ever had a refusal, it helps if you are using an older or cheap looking film camera – phone or digital is just too ordinary. I always explain that I like to make prints in the darkroom and I can send them a print of the final image – make sure you do.

Here are some of the images accumulated over the last 6 or 7 years or so and a few words here and there about the situation, camera and film.

Neil Thompson, Ferret Man - Cambridge 2019A photowalk with friends in Cambridge ended in a pub, as is the norm. I asked this Gent if we could sit at the big table he was occupying and he agreed. It wasn’t too long before I looked down and noticed the two ferrets in his bag. Neil likes to go for a beer and he likes to take is ferrets with him. We had a lovely chat and I couldn’t leave without getting the Rolleiflex out, loaded as ever with HP5 and make his portrait. I would have liked to have had time to attach the Rolleinar 1 close up filter. But hey, you take what you can get. A darkroom print on Ilford RC paper

London - Summer 2013

And so to one of the earlier ones – again a photowalk – this time a meet up in London with fellow Polaroid enthusiasts. I had an SX70 camera with me and one of the Impossible Project films from around 2013 maybe – How could you not pass his photo up. I saw her friend take it on a phone and asked her to do it again for this strange English guy with a Polaroid Camera.

Fenland Fair #2 - Ramsey.jpg

I was into expired peel apart Polaroid film for many years and used to take my 250 Land camera with Portrait attachment to country fairs. This may have been 10 year old Polaroid 125i but cant be certain.

Fenland Fair #1 - Ramsey.jpg

Same guy

Traffic Officer, Cambridge - April 2014.jpg

One of my all time favourite combinations for Portraits of Strangers is the Holga and HP5. I was in Cambridge and spotted this Bus driver or supervisor as he came off shift, now he was a little reluctant till I explained that it was a film camera РHolga 120FN and Ilford HP5+ A darkroom print on Ilford RC paper

Holme #7 - 2016.jpg

We have a couple of 1940 weekends near Warboys, I nearly always go to this one as it takes over a small village called Holme. These events are great for Portraits of Strangers as, well, the folks who re-enact or man 1940 stalls tend not to be shy or retiring types and, quite frankly are used to having their picture taken.

This is another darkroom print on Ilford RC paper from an HP5 negative shot in the Rolleiflex 3.5e and Xenotar lens (maybe I had my Rolleinar 2 close up on but not sure)

Ramsey 2016.jpgAnother from a similar event the previous year – Rolleiflex again and HP5

Strawberry Fair - Cambridge.jpg

Cambridge hosts an alternative event every June called the Strawberry Fair – one year I took my SX70 loaded with Impossible BW film in it

SouthBank - London.jpg

And on the SouthBank in London – he was a lovely chap (SX70 Impossible film)

Mark - Cornwall.jpg

I have been lucky to travel down to Cornwall most years on business, this time I had my Holga and HP5 with me as some surfers came up the beach – well it would be rude not to ask……… Ilford RC paper print

Paul #2 - Greenbelt 2014Paul was a trader at the Greenbelt Festival, he took a bit of persuading but eventually the lure of the Holga and my charm overpowered him !

Darkroom Print

Holme #9.jpgLast year at the Holme 1940s event and I took my Pentax 6×7 and some HP5 – this lovely smiley lady was selling ceramics, I hung around a while till the crowds were gone – she was delighted with the print I sent her on Ilford RC paper

Cambridge Porter - 2018.jpg

Polaroid meet up in Cambridge – Polaroid Sun 660 plastic camera and some late vintage impossible film – a Cambridge Porter who was a lovely chap

Ely - 2018.jpg

Last Year the “Littlest Holga” visited Warboys and I took her out to Ely where I passed this awesome fiddle player – she was happy to be photographed. I lost her details so she never did get a print.

Holga HP5+

Cider Maker - Somerset.jpg

And so to close, with a beer – cheers from Somerset

Roger Wilkins, Soerset Cider maker – Ilford RC paper, HP5 and Holga


More to follow…….eventually


  1. These are wonderful. I tried a 50 Strangers project but stopped at 20. It’s difficult for me to approach strangers.
    I am impressed with how sharp the Holga photos are. Beautiful.
    Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. These are awesome. I’ve personally always struggled with taking photographs of people other than my family and friends. I find it terrifying talking to strangers let alone asking them if I can take their picture. I do like the idea of sending them a print. Any tips on breaking the ice?


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