“The world is full of beauty, but only for those with eyes to see it”![row][/row]

“The “People I didn’t know” is a street portrait project realised by Ion Paciu which aims to help people discover themselves, to help them realise how beautiful they are, and to remind them of how many beautiful things surround us. We are all busy most of the time; with simple day to day tasks (going to work, shopping, socialising, taking our kids to school, etc) rushing about and forgetting to look around and see the real beauty of this world: our inner selves!

“People I didn’t know” is a self-initiated street portrait project which aims to shed new light on portrait photography. It all began a long time ago when I stopped someone on the street in London and asked them to pose for me. Well, if you live in London, you know it’s the city of no eye contact, where everyone looks straight ahead and strives to keep their private life well, private. I am often walking the streets of London as I teach photography on the Southbank; walking with my camera day and night I have the opportunity to see so many things around me, but the most important thing I see is people. People rushing to work in the morning, people shopping, people hanging around in the markets, taking a walk, dating, begging, jogging, visiting, people old and young, men and women, British or foreign. Portrait photography is hard work and requires establishing a strong relationship with your model in order to achieve the desired expression, to get the mood, to access the soul. It is not an easy job and many times you end up producing hundreds of images just to realise how difficult it is to get the story of a person across.

The images for this street portrait project were made ad-hoc on the street, on the tube, in shops, bars, and train stations using only natural / available light. Only minor adjustments were made in post processing including the black and white conversion.

Every person in these images was, at the time of shooting, a stranger I stopped on the street and asked to pose for me. They are the people I didn’t know. With many of them I kept in touch regularly, and some became my friends. Some of them even became my models and they now pose for my students during my photography courses.

‘People I didn’t know’ street portrait project is a homage to human nature, the art of photography, and a quest to bring together our solitary Londoner souls.

Below you will find 140 images from this street portrait project including their stories.

There are hundreds of images which need to be converted and uploaded. Images are being uploaded on a regular basis so please keep looking.

Enjoy!

portrait-street-ion-paciu-london-Florence

I was running a course in the street, it was cold, winter and it was quite late when I saw this girl in front of a coffee shop. I asked my students to give me one minute and I ran after the girl, and asked her for permission to take a photograph. It was almost dark, light was dim, so I was worried when I pressed the shutter that the image was not going to be very sharp. I held my camera firmly, held my breath and squeezed the shutter gently. I looked at the screen and, thanked God, the image was quite sharp. Thank you Florence When I captured this image I didn’t get the model’s name, I finally found Florence after one year trough a friend of hers whom I had photographed on the street.

portrait-street-ion-paciu-london-Alan-sq

This is Alan, retired from the British Army, he has been living in the Himalayas for the last 35 years. He used to work as a designer for a while then he worked for the Royal Navy. I met him on Lower Marsh Road in front of Radio Days vintage shop. I asked him to pose for me and he agreed without hesitation. He was so gentle; speaking very slow and calm, extremely relaxed. I was fascinated by this guy’s expression and personality; something that you rarely get to see. Thank you Alan.

portrait-street-ion-paciu-london-Barry

This is Barry and I met him in London on Lower Marsh Road. He was just passing by. Barry is from South Africa and he has been living in Spain for a while. Barry posed for me but he could not stop smoking; not that I minded 🙂 Thank you Barry.

ion-paciu-street-portrait-project-matthew

Matthew is American who lives in London. His main occupation is as a novelist, but he is also a photographer; specialising in the architecture of ruins. I met Matthew on Lower Marsh Road while I was coming back from doing my shopping. I noticed Matthew immediately and I asked him to pose for me; he was quite happy to face my lens and then we chatted for long time; it was a pleasure to listen to his stories. Thank you Matthew.
Image taken on the street using only natural light.

ion-paciu-street-portrait-hadley-london

I could not believe my eyes when I saw Hadley yesterday. I chatted with her before I photographed her, and she agreed that sometimes, she feels like she is lost in time and that she belongs to another time in the past. She posed for me with grace and passion, with attitude and easiness. I was so pleased to photograph her.  Thank you Hadley.
Image taken on the street using only natural light.

ion-paciu-street-portrait-project-don-london

This is Don from Dorset; who was visiting London when I met him around the food market near The Royal festival Hall. When I saw Don I was seeing I saw Gandalf, from Lord of the Rings. I approached him immediately and I asked him to pose for me. He didn’t question my request at all and he faced the camera relaxed and confident. We exchange a few words after and I can say that it was a great pleasure to have met him. Don was a very nice individual with plenty of stories to tell. Thank you Don.
Image taken outdoors, using only natural light.

ion-paciu-street-portrait-project-ellie-london

I met Ellie around the Food Market behind the Royal Festival Hall. I saw her earlier walking on the Jubilee Bridge but I didn’t ask her to pose for me as I was a bit nervous, I don’t know why.
Ellie is English but she comes from Scottish and Welsh parents; and she studies drama in London. She was with a friend and I saw her again after few minutes when I said myself: I definitely have to make this photograph. I approached Ellie and she agreed to pose for me straight away without hesitation. Thank you Ellie.
It is rarely that you get to see such a fascinating character and expression. Thank you so much Ellie for giving me the opportunity to photograph you and share this photograph with others. 
Image taken on the street using only natural light.

ion-paciu-street-portrait-project-london-roisin

Roisin is a primary school teacher and I photographed her on the Southbank in central London.
Image taken using only natural light.

ion-paciu-street-portrait-project-katerina-london

This is Katerina; she is an actress, and I met her on the street on a Saturday afternoon while I was coming back home from one of my photography courses. I asked her to pose for me and she agreed without hesitation. Thank you Katerina.
This image was taken on the street using only natural light.

ion-paciu-street-portrait-project-elliot-london

Eliot is English, but he comes from Russian and Jewish descendants. He is a writer and he writes critically about drug policy. I met Eliot on my way home while I was carrying some shopping bags; my camera was at hand, as always. I asked Eliot to pose for me and he faced my camera with extreme confidence and pleasure. Thank you Eliot.
Image taken on the street using only natural light.

ion-paciu-street-portrait-project-maisy-london

Maisy from Brighton, is a student. I photographed her on the Southbank in central London. Image taken using only natural light. Thank you Maisy.

ion-paciu-street-portrait-project-emma-london

I met Emma who is an insurance underwriter on a Saturday afternoon after I finished a practice session with my students. I was going back home when I saw Emma: so elegant and beautiful walking alone on the street; she looked to me like a star. I approached her and politely asked her to pose for me for a portrait for my collection. She  was a little nervous but a moment later the job was done! Another day gone, another story, another friend, another happy moment. Thank you Emma
Image taken on the street using only natural light.

ion-paciu-street-portrait-project-sophia-london

Sophia was on the street while I was hanging around with my students and I stopped her to ask if she wanted to pose for me. She agreed and after I exposed the images she told me her story quickly: she studied Archaeology at Cambridge, she is British and she fell in love with a Muslim man; subsequently she converted to the Islamic faith and she is now studying to be a midwife.  
Image taken on the street using natural light.  
Thank you Sophia.

ion-paciu-street-portrait-project-tamsin-london

This is Tamsin, she is English, but she comes from English & German mixed race mother and her father is from Sierra Leone, Ghana. I met Tamsin at the food market in London, Royal Festival Hall while I was having a beer after my weekend course. Tamsin is a personal gym trainer, but she is also a singer in her private time. Tamsin drew my attention while she was passing by; she was with a friend when I asked her to pose for me. She agreed without hesitation; I took the photograph and then we had a short chat and a good laugh together with her friend. It was a pleasure to photograph her indeed. Thank you Tamsin.
Image taken on the street using only natural light.

ion-paciu-street-portrait-project-cinzia-london

Cinzia is from Italy, and she lives and works in London doing live painting restorations. I met her in London on the Southbank when she was hanging around with a good friend of hers (Jon whom I talked about in the previous image).
I spotted her straight away in the crowd (it was summer and it was Saturday; a very busy time). She posed for me with grace and huge pleasure, and I was so happy to see the image on my camera’s screen. I had captured another great story. I thanked her and she was pleased to see me happy.  Thank you Cinzia 
Image taken on the street using only natural light

ion-paciu-street-portrait-project-jon-london

Here is Jon, Cinzia’s friend; after I finished with Cinzia, they pointed my attention towards Jon, he was not a subject to be missed!
Jon was a bit reluctant at first, but he agreed to face my camera for a few seconds, and that’s all it took for me to get his story too! Everyone was happy and after we have exchanged our contact details and a quick chat it was time for a beer. Thank you Jon. 
Image taken on the street using only natural light.

ion-paciu-street-portrait-project-caitlan-london

This is Caitlan and I met her on the Southbank in London around Royal festival Hall. Caitlan loved posing for me; she was calm and relaxed, so quiet, she didn’t speak too much, she didn’t question my request she just did the job, and she did it very well. Thank you Caitlan. 
Image taken on the street using only natural light.

ion-paciu-street-portrait-project-jo-london

Jo is a dancer/performer and I met her around the Royal Festival Hall where she was dancing outdoors for the public. I stopped her and I asked her to pose for me; no hesitation, looking straight into my camera. After a few seconds of instructions the shot came out as the above. I was very pleased with the results, and I moved to the next model. Thank you Jo.
Image taken outdoors using only natural light.

ion-paciu-street-portrait-project-ami-london

Ami was in such a rush that she produced the fastest portrait in my life. She was in such a rush that she didn’t want to pose for me, worrying that it will take too long, and she would miss the show she was going to see. I promised her that it won’t take too long; it took me less than 10 seconds to take this image!
Thank you Ami!
Image taken on the street using only natural light.

ion-paciu-street-portrait-project-james-london

James is a graphic designer and I photographed him on the Southbank in central London.
Image taken using only natural light.

ion-paciu-street-portrait-project-Kaucarlron -london

This is Kaucarlron, he is from south America, Guyana, and he is working as a machinist around London. I met him at the Food Market in London on the Southbank. I loved his expression and his features. As soon as I saw him I stopped him and asked him to pose for me. He was happy to do that and I went back home with this very nice portrait.
Thank you so much Kaucarlron. 
Image taken on the street using only natural light.

ion-paciu-street-portrait-project-dominic-london

I met Dominic on Charing Cross Road near Leicester Square in London. I was with my best friend, and we were visiting the area when Dominic showed up from a shop. I stopped him and I asked for permission to take a photograph. He gladly posed for me and obviously we (me and my friend) were so curios to find out more about the metal device that Dominic was wearing on his head.
He said that the metal pyramid sitting on his head was to help him to focus better, to concentrate and relax, and it had a positive influence on his health. Apparently these pyramids are being sold by an American company (not sure about the name but I think he said “Paradine”) and people purchased them and used them to improve their health and their day to day life. Thank you Dominic.
Image taken on the street using only natural light.

ion-paciu-street-portrait-project-desmond-london

I met Desmond around Waterloo Tube Station, he was coming out from the underground and he was with his partner. Desmond is from India, he is a poet and a photographer, focusing on general life work. His other name is Sequeira, which apparently is an Irish name. It was a pleasure to listen to Desmond’s story after I photographed him. Thank you Desmond.
Image taken on the street using only natural light.

ion-paciu-street-portrait-project-rahul-london

Rahul is a physicist, he works with lasers X-rays; it sounds complicated to me; but he said that he enjoyed his job a great deal. Rahul is originally from New Delhi, India, but he lives in San Francisco California.  I met Rahul in London on Portobello Road while we both were visiting a really nice local spices “Spice Shop” shop. I asked him for permission to take a photograph and he was really nice and agreed straight away. While his wife stuffed her bag with some nice herbs and spices I made this portrait. Rahul is also passionate about photography and he practices it as a hobby. Thank you Rahul.
Image taken on the street using only natural light.

ion-paciu-street-portrait-project-mohamad-london

I was hanging around with a good friend of mine around Royal Festival Hall when we saw Mohammad. Mohammad is Scottish, he works as a pharmacist in London, and his origins are from Gambia. It was a pleasure to photograph and talk to him. Thank you Mohammad.   
Image taken on the street using only natural light.

ion-paciu-street-portrait-project-james-london

James is a chef, and I met him in London around the Food Market on the South Bank. I interrupted him while he was buying a drink, and asked if he would consider posing for me for my project. He happily agreed and we got away from the crowd. Before I started my job I mentioned that he doesn’t look British.
James was a bit of a story teller so, while we were tasting some really flavoured shots, he started to tell me his story; about his roots and his family. His grandma fell in love with an Italian guy (apparently a prisoner) who was working at their farm in Northamptonshire. They got married and they had kids. One of their children was James’ father, who married a British Lady and they gave birth to this charming guy. Thank you James.
We finished tasting and I took a couple of images of James, again using only natural light.

ion-paciu-street-portrait-project-Twegz-london

Twegz was listening to music through his headphones as I was crossing Waterloo Station; going back home from one of the photography courses I teach on the South Bank. It was late and the light was dim. I looked into his eyes and I showed him the camera (which is always at hand) suggesting that I wanted to make a photograph of him. He quickly understood what my intention was. He posed for me blindly (without even asking me why). I snapped a couple of shots and I gave him my card so he could get in touch. He kept listening to music all the way through as if nothing happened. Thank you Twegz.
Image taken outside, using only natural light.

ion-paciu-street-portrait-project-joshua-london

This is Joshua. Originally from Jamaica, he works as an electrician in London, and he installs security systems. I met Joshua on Westminster Bridge while I was returning from a meeting, and I asked him if he wanted to pose for me. He agreed and I made this image using only natural light. Thank you Joshua.

ion-paciu-street-portrait-project-ann-london

This is Ann, a beautiful Irish woman, who I met in London on Lower Marsh Road while I was coming back from one of my courses. Ann happily posed for me for a couple of shots. Thank you Ann.
Image taken outdoor using only natural light.

ion-paciu-street-portrait-project-abyie-london

Abiye owns the Big Apple hot Dogs in London, which are handmade hot dogs using high quality ingredients. I met Abiye in the Food Market in London while he was selling his goods. I mentioned that he would make a good subject for my project but he rushed and replied that he is not an interesting character or photogenic.
I disagreed with him and I proposed a short photo session. I made a photo of Abiye and I showed him the screen of the camera, she shouted: that is definitely the best photo of me I’ve ever seen. I was pleased, job done. Thank you Abiye.
Image taken outdoors, using only natural light.

ion-paciu-street-portrait-project-aileen-london

This is Aileen, she is English, but she comes from Canadian Irish (father), and Chinese (mother) parents. I met Ali in London around the Royal Festival Hall on the South Bank. Ali was doing a job for RFH and she took a break and popped into the market to buy some food. I asked her to pose for me and she didn’t refuse me. It was a pleasure to photograph and listen to her story. Thank you Aileen.
Image taken outdoors, using only natural light.

ion-paciu-street-portrait-project-herculano-london

Herculano, a Portuguese salesman, was passing by on the South Bank in London when I saw him; he looked obviously photogenic and I asked him to quickly pose for me. He did it and I was so happy when I looked at the screen of the camera. Thank you Herculano. Image was taken using only natural light.

ion-paciu-street-portrait-project-huw-london

Huw was selling St’ Germaine liquor in the Food Market with Federico. I thought he was Italian but I was wrong. He is English and his name is Welsh. A charming individual, who gave me what I was after very quickly. When I finished with him I photographed Federico as well. Thank you Huw.
Image taken outdoors, using only natural light.

ion-paciu-street-portrait-project-ashley-london

I met Ashley around the Southbank Royal where he worked as a security manager for the Royal Festival Hall. It took me a bit of time to convince him to face my camera, and there was no way to get him to take the device off his ear. In fact, I think that was kind of communication gadget, so he was keen to keep it in case he was needed urgently.  We became friends after I snapped the image and we still keep in touch. Thank you Ashley! 
Image taken on the street using only natural light.

ion-paciu-street-portrait-project-clare-london

Clare was on Lower Marsh Road while I was hanging around with my camera. I asked her to pose for me and she was very happy to face the camera. The images was taken using a shop door as background. Thank you Clare.
Image was taken on the street, using only natural light.

ion-paciu-street-portrait-project-dane-london

I met Dane at the Food Market near the Royal festival Hall in London on the South Bank. He was with his son hanging around in the market. I asked Dane to pose for me and he asked me: why would I want to take a photograph of him? I told him that he is a very interesting character and photogenic. He disagreed but in the end he decided to face my camera.
He was charming, and it was a pleasure to photograph and talk to him. What was indeed unusual is, that an hour later, I photographed his daughter, Amelia, who was with a friend in the same place. We didn’t know at that time but we found out later when I gave them the images. Thank you, Dane.
Image taken using only natural light.

ion-paciu-street-portrait-project-dujhan-london

Dujhan is an artist who also plays the Stock-market, makes music for many tv, film, documentaries , and campaigns for people in wheelchairs. I had just gone out and was heading to the market to buy some vegetables. It was a sunny day; I turned right on Lower Marsh Road and I saw Dujhan; I quickly realised that I would have to put shopping on the waiting list. Dujhan agreed to pose for me straight away and this shot was exactly what I was looking for. We chatted for a while after I made the image and it was a great pleasure to find out more about Dujhan. Thank you Dujhan.
Image taken on the street using only natural light.

ion-paciu-street-portrait-project-janowel-london

Jeanowel was the most difficult model I have ever photographed in my life. I was coming back from one of my courses when I saw Jeanowel on Lower Marsh, in front of Walrus Social Bar, where he was catching his breath.
Apparently, he had walked a long way with his huge contrabass hanging on his shoulders. I went to Janowell and asked him to pose for me. He didn’t want to hear about that: NO! NO! NO! He claimed that everyone wants to photograph him, they take bad pictures and they never give him a copy and he is kind of fed up with posing for people.
I insisted but his answer was no. Then I had to use one of my secret techniques and eventually he agreed to pose for me, but this was the most challenging portrait I have ever taken in my life.
I will never forget Janowell and his stubbornness. I sent him copies of the images and he loved them. Janowell is a very interesting subject for the camera and I think I have done a huge favour to any other photographer who will try to photograph Janowell. He, in the end, has regained his trust in this annoying species hanging on the street with their cameras. Thank you Janowell.
Image taken in very low light conditions (it was almost dark) using only natural light.

ion-paciu-street-portrait-project-emy-london

This is Emi, she is Chinese and she lives and studies business in London. I met Emi in China Town while I was shopping in the area. She agreed to pose for me almost instantly, no questions asked.Thanks Emi.
Image taken on the street using only natural light.

 

 

Our tutor Ion Paciu can teach you how to take ad-hoc portraits like these easily just using natural light, please have a look at our portrait photography workshop.