The Alina Lee Project (2016-2017)
Project info

I photograph people because they are unique, dynamic subjects that have been molded by a lifetime of experiences. And San Francisco is ripe with interesting looking characters. When I come across one, I challenge myself to get as close to them as possible and make a candid image of them that is flattering and technically sound. Good lighting, beautiful clean background, expressive eyes…that kind of stuff. I relish the physicality and the mental acuity required for my style of street photography.

Once in awhile though, I’ll come across a stranger so striking that I’m compelled to stop and ask them if I can make a portrait of them. Mostly I do this to ensure that I don’t miss getting a strong shot (candids for me are really hit-or-miss). Although it takes only a few minutes, I am still surprised by how generous people are with their time and their trust. Meeting and photographing people this way has been hugely rewarding and has really deepened my faith in the kindness of strangers. It’s a crazy feeling to have them thank me when they are the ones giving me a gift that only they have the ability to give.

Yet I felt that there was still something missing.

It’s a lucky occurrence when these strangers are actually comfortable being photographed. The ones that are comfortable rarely know what to do with their hands and body.

I came to the realization that I wanted to try doing what I was doing with these strangers, but with an experienced, professional model. Someone that knows how to project their very being into a frame effectively and powerfully.

That’s when I reached out to Alina Lee.

I encourage the viewer to disregard any notion that photography needs to be anything more than an exercise in aesthetics. Just get lost in Alina’s eyes and let your focus bleed into the forms and colors in the rest of frame.