I finally had the opportunity to spend a few days with Joshua Coombes, the founder of #DoSomethingForNothing, and document his humanitarian work on the streets of New York City.
Josh is a young hairstylist from London who started giving free haircuts to homeless people during his time off, in an attempt to brighten up their day. The project, known as #DoSomethingForNothing, soon became his mission and he has been traveling to major cities around the world to touch lives, one person at a time.
Josh and I have known each other online ever since he started his project 2 years ago. We’ve been following each other’s work, determined that one day our paths would cross, and I would have the opportunity to tell his story through my lens. Thanks to the support of Fujifilm North America, who brought us together on the streets of New York City for 4 days last week, we finally made it happen!
We hit the ground running as soon as I landed on Tuesday afternoon. Josh had arrived from the U.K. a couple of days earlier. I couldn’t wait to meet Josh and start documenting his work. My X100F was loaded and ready to capture compassion and hope.
Over the following four days on the streets of Manhattan and Brooklyn, we met people from all different backgrounds. Homelessness can happen to anyone at any time. White or black, young or old, misfortune and adversity don’t discriminate.
Working with my Fujifilm X100F was the perfect choice for this project. The 23mm focal length allowed me to be physically close, while its small size and silent shutter made it unobtrusive and non intimidating. Every subject agreed to be photographed, but I didn’t start shooting right away, and Josh didn’t start cutting hair immediately either. Our first role was to listen, wipe tears and give hugs. We were always rewarded by the brightest smiles in the end!
What’s next for Josh? He obviously found his calling. As he recently wrote on Instagram: “This isn’t charity, it’s connection. It’s keeping all doors open to listen to others and learn.” I want to do all I can to support him in his mission to bring smiles in our challenging world, one haircut at a time. By doing so and sharing his experience, he is influencing others to also Do Something For Nothing, whatever that may be.
As for me, this project was life changing. I’ve been wanting to work on a humanitarian project for quite a while, and this is the perfect fit. Josh and I work well as a team, and the images I collected were definitely the most important photographs I’ve ever shot.
We wish to keep working together whenever possible to document other stories in other cities, to raise awareness and share the love. We are planning to write an ebook #DoSomethingForNothing in NYC in the next few months to raise funds to help Josh keep doing what he does with so much passion. We also want to show the recent photo documentary in galleries.
Here are a few of the beautiful souls we met on the street of NYC last week. This is a sneak peek! More photographs with their stories will be included in the ebook. To be notified of its release, please follow this blog or sign up to my mailing list. Don’t forget to follow Josh on Instagram to see his before and after pics!
Note: Listen to episode 52 on my podcast Hit The Streets with Valerie Jardin for a special conversation with Joshua Coombes.
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Your help is important, take a moment to write a comment and please, share this post!
If you know me personally, you’ll be surprised to learn that I went to the Great Minnesota Get-Together more than once this year! I don’t like crowds, I don’t eat fair food and I’m definitely a minimalist photographer. And yet, I loved the challenge of isolating stories in a sea of people!
A few stats about the Minnesota State Fair: It happens once a year and lasts 12 days, always ending on Labor Day. It covers 320 acres. It is the largest fair in the US by average daily attendance. It’s not rare to see 250K people enter its gates in a single day!
Here are the few moments I captured this year while roaming miles and miles of fairgrounds with my camera, mostly at dusk and at night.
I would love to hear from you! Please leave a comment below. Merci! 🙂
I have been using the Lensbaby Velvet 56 on my Fujifilm X-Pro2 regularly for about a year (see previous blog posts with the Velvet 56 here and here). I recently had the opportunity to try the Lensbaby Composer Pro II for a few weeks and it was F U N!
As I wrote in my latest book The Art of Seeing Photographically, using a special effect lens is a great exercise in creativity. It offers an extra challenge for the visual artist. It’s a new way of seeing and forces the photographer to let go of the notion of sharpness. There will always be an element of surprise in the photographs it produces and that may just be the biggest appeal of such a lens. Seeing the resulting photographs on the computer screen after a photo shoot is always a bit like opening a present. The anticipation is somewhat reminiscent of shooting film.
So the question is: Should you get one? If, like me, you prefer in-camera fun and creativity versus spending time in front of the computer, then maybe you should add it to your wish list. There are quite a few different models to choose from. Renting before you buy may be wise. The Composer Pro II with Sweet 35 will give you a sharp focus surrounded with a dreamy blur. The added function of the tilt is also fun on this lens.
Here are a few pics shot with the Lensbaby composer Pro II with Sweet 35 Optic. Except for the occasional exposure adjustment and a slight vignette on a couple of them, they are as is. Colors are Classic Chrome, B&W are Acros in camera jpegs shot with the Fujifilm X-Pro2.
The last one was shot through the window of a moving car (passenger seat) at Point Reyes, California.
I’m a little behind in my blog posts. Summer has been ‘non-stop’, just the way I like it. In July I spent a few weeks at my family home in Normandy (see earlier post here). I was traveling with my two boys. They’ve spent every summer in France since they were babies, it has always been a priority for me to make it happen. I didn’t want them to experience their other country as tourists, but always in full cultural immersion, with family. July at Papy and Mamie’s house has always been one of the highlights of the year for them. You can also imagine how much my parents value those priceless visits.
We usually travel to other european countries as well during our visit but this summer was a shorter trip so we stayed mostly on the coast and traveled to Paris for 3 days.
As you know, I travel and take pictures for a living, so the camera takes a back seat during my family vacations. Of course, the camera is with me every step of the way and I make it a challenge in limitations to only grab shots here and there while on our daily outings.
I travelled with my trusted Fujifilm X100F and switched from B&W to Classic Chrome depending on the subject and the light throughout the day.
Here are a few of my favorite pics from those 3 days in Paris with my kids. I’m going back there next month and I can’t wait to share more scenes of everyday life with you soon.
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I’ve been busy writing! While you are all waiting for Street Photography: Creative Vision Behind the Lens to come out this Fall, I just released a new eBook today titled The Art of Seeing Photographically
It’s a 101 page book to help you take control of your gear and create more impactful imagery.
Whether you photograph landscapes, still-life, people, or anything in between, the goal of this book is to help you put more intent in your photography. Each section is filled with examples drawn from my own collection as well as assignments to give you a little push to go out with your camera and practice a new technique or learn to see in a new way.
It never hurts to go back to basics, no matter how long you’ve been a photographer or what the degree of expertise you think you have.
I hope you enjoy it! Click on the pic below for details and to download.
See all my books via this link.
Thank you for your continued support!
I just spent a few days of vacation at my family home in Normandy, France. I’m not a beachgoers. I cannot sit still but I certainly enjoy walking, collecting sea glass and, of course, taking pictures. I also stay away from the busy beaches and prefer the lesser known one, where the locals go.
There is humor at the beach, people let their guards down. It’s a joy for the storyteller.
Here are a few pics collected during my summer beach walk in Normandy. All shot with the Fujifilm X100F with the timeless look of Classic Chrome.
Thank you for visiting!
It’s been a while since I’ve posted on the blog. Crazy few weeks…
We celebrated two graduations: Lucas from University, Nathan from High School.
I also wrote a new ebook The Art of Seeing Photographically which will be released in the next few days. I wrote a new article for Fujilove Magazine and I was featured in the German Soul of Street magazine, including the cover pic! I’ve also been busy proofing the typeset pages of my next book Street Photography: The Vision Behind The Lens to be released by Focal Press in New York in two months
I also taught a street photography workshop in Minneapolis and just returned from being a speaker at the Out of Chicago photo conference. I also recorded quite a few exciting episodes for my weekly podcast Hit The Streets with Valerie Jardin.
Here are a few of the pics I’ve collected along the way…
Please leave a comment, merci! 🙂
New York City is seeing a lot more of me these days. I’ve been walking its streets more and more frequently. My photographer’s eye can’t get enough of it but my heart and soul still belong to Paris…
Here are a few pics from my trip earlier this month:
From Grand Central…
Reading upside down in the subway…
To a windy day on Broadway…
Light and Shadow in the Oculus at the World Trade Center…
All photographs shot with the Fujifilm X100F
April has been a busy month so far! After teaching two consecutive workshops in Paris early in the month (a week-long workshop followed by a weekend), I had just enough time to fly back to the States to be home for a short week before it was time to fly across the atlantic again to teach in Amsterdam. I’m back in the States now and ready to fly to New York City next week. That’s a lot of air miles, but more importantly, a lot of miles walking with my Fuji teaching what I love to do…
Many memories later and some goods laughs shared with new friends, here are a few of my favorite pics from Paris and Amsterdam.
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I resist more and more the term ‘street photographer’. I am a photographer. I do not limit my lens to people, never have and never will. I see life photographically and that makes me happy.
I just returned from a trip to Quintana Roo, on the Yucatàn Peninsula of Mexico. It wasn’t a photography trip (more on that in this post), but I always had my camera with me. When it’s winter and you live in a snowy state, any splash of color is a welcome sight. Here are some of the colors that grabbed my eye on the streets of Tulum and on Isla Mujeres last week.
More pics coming soon!