SF photographer takes vivid portraits of everyday residents

by AryanArtnews
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Harry Williams, Jr. wants his photographs to create a human connection to the many faces that pass through the city of San Francisco at a glance.

“I want people to see people who may be overlooking every day they pass by without admitting,” he explained. “I want my pictures to feel like they breathe in. The tactile sensation makes you feel like you can touch the pictures and they can touch you.”

One of Harry Williams’ street portraits.

Instagram / hwilliamsjrphoto

Williams shares his vibrant street photography portrait on his Instagram page hwilliamsjrphoto.

Williams shines as he walks through the city of science fiction, holding only a camera with a 50mm or 60mm lens. Like any other great portrait, his images capture the subject’s face and its personality.

One of Harry Williams' street portraits.

One of Harry Williams’ street portraits.

Instagram / hwilliamsjrphoto

“Social realism best represents my work. I like to interact with the subject, so I get these intimate close-up shots,” Williams said. “I love seeing this beautiful catch light in people’s eyes make them shine.”

One of Harry Williams' street portraits.

One of Harry Williams’ street portraits.

Instagram / hwilliamsjrphoto

Williams grew up in the countryside of Ohio and found his love for photography by taking classes at college. “As soon as I saw my image in the darkroom, I was hooked,” he said. “I have a bachelor’s degree in photography from Ohio State University.”

After graduating, Williams sold everything he owned except the camera and traveled extensively in Southeast Asia for a year.

“I started street snapping when I traveled to Southeast Asia. The more I traveled, the more I was attracted to the abandoned people and items that seemed to have souls and life,” he said. ..

One of the street photos of Harry Williams.

One of the street photos of Harry Williams.

Instagram / hwilliamsjrphoto

When Williams finished his trip in 2002, he moved to the Bay Area.

“When I moved to San Francisco, it was so expensive that I couldn’t travel anymore, so I decided to focus on a series of jobs walking around the city of San Francisco,” he explained. “I’ve been here for about 20 years, but four years ago I started focusing on the streets of San Francisco.”

Every time Williams took a picture of the city of San Francisco, he realized he discovered something new.

One of Harry Williams' street portraits.

One of Harry Williams’ street portraits.

Instagram / hwilliamsjrphoto

“I found that when I was walking I was very aware of everything that was happening around me. It’s like I’m in another zone,” Williams said. “Often you just take a few pictures and then three or four portraits, but when you say the hand of a person who looks like a sculpture, all alongside beautiful light, the house I’m very excited to get back to and start editing. “

Harry Williams captures vibrant and intimate street photography portraits on the streets of San Francisco.

Harry Williams captures vibrant and intimate street photography portraits on the streets of San Francisco.


Instagram / hwilliamsjrphoto

Harry Williams captures vibrant and intimate street photography portraits on the streets of San Francisco.

Harry Williams captures vibrant and intimate street photography portraits on the streets of San Francisco.


Instagram / hwilliamsjrphoto


Harry J Williams / Instagram

Williams said his photography style was influenced by Dorothea Lange, especially her sensitivity to the subject, and Frank Capra.

“If the photo isn’t good enough, you love his quote that you’re not close enough,” he says. “I love finding and seeing things that have been abandoned and taking pictures to bring new life to life, so I think I like taking pictures of people who are overlooked.”

One of Harry Williams' street portraits.

One of Harry Williams’ street portraits.

Instagram / hwilliamsjrphoto

As I walked through the streets of San Francisco, Williams found that having only a camera with a small lens made it much easier to get close to the person who wanted to take a picture.

“If I find an interesting person to take a picture of, I just say hello or give them a compliment about how great they look in the light,” Williams explained. “It’s very organic and many people feel comfortable with me, I think it’s because I look like a tourist. I don’t have multiple lenses or telephoto lenses and I stand across the street. I’m secretly experimenting with photos. My approach is to get to know them a bit and then take a portrait if they’re comfortable. “

Williams needs to be within a few feet of the subject to create an intimate portrait. “This means that in order to get the image I got, I have to talk to people to be as close as possible.” Almost all of my photos are uncropped. , I’m always approaching. “

Harry Williams captures vibrant and intimate street photography portraits on the streets of San Francisco.

Harry Williams captures vibrant and intimate street photography portraits on the streets of San Francisco.


Instagram / hwilliamsjrphoto

Harry Williams captures vibrant and intimate street photography portraits on the streets of San Francisco.

Harry Williams captures vibrant and intimate street photography portraits on the streets of San Francisco.


Instagram / hwilliamsjrphoto


Harry J Williams / Instagram

After he takes a picture, Williams often finds that his subject is usually very grateful, acknowledged and happy.

“Some say I’m the first person to actually stop and talk to them in a few days, while others say I haven’t taken pictures since elementary school,” Williams said.

In addition to the intimate portraits of people’s faces, Williams is also focused on their hands, inspired by his grandfather’s childhood memories.

One of Harry Williams' street portraits.

One of Harry Williams’ street portraits.

Instagram / hwilliamsjrphoto

“I think the hands are like portraits. They talk a lot about people without even looking at their faces,” he explained. “I remember when my grandfather died, my hands were tied to my bed to keep them from falling. I was small, so I was at eye level. All kinds of wrinkles swollen and healed deeply. He was a World War II veteran. I remember the sight of these huge, strong, lifeless hands that I stared at and told the whole story of his life. I will never forget. “

Harry Williams captures vibrant and intimate street photography portraits on the streets of San Francisco.

Harry Williams captures vibrant and intimate street photography portraits on the streets of San Francisco.


Instagram / hwilliamsjrphoto

Harry Williams captures vibrant and intimate street photography portraits on the streets of San Francisco.

Harry Williams captures vibrant and intimate street photography portraits on the streets of San Francisco.


Instagram / hwilliamsjrphoto


Harry J Williams / Instagram

Many of the people in William’s photo may live on the streets of San Francisco, but I’ve noticed that many are hanging out on the streets because of boredom.

“When I go out to take pictures, I don’t just take pictures of homeless people. I really just make it organic,” he said. “Maybe most homeless people are sitting in a particular place, but it’s hard to interact with someone when walking by you. If you really want to take a picture, you stopped. , Usually you need to be in the right place. And background. “

One of Harry Williams' street portraits.

One of Harry Williams’ street portraits.

Instagram / hwilliamsjrphoto

After walking down the street for four years, Williams meets the same people and sometimes retakes their portraits.

“When a homeless man asked me why I wanted to take a picture of him, he said,’Look at me.’ I replied, “You just look beautiful in this light. Your eyes just brighten.” Then he asked how much money I would make by taking pictures. , And I do it for art, and when I see a beautiful subject, I said I just want to shoot it, “Williams said. “The man started crying. He was probably in his late 60s. It was a very moving moment for me.”

In addition to his portrait work, Williams also captures more traditional candid street photography.

“San Francisco is great for that. I love walking from missions to Chinatown. One moment may be a lowrider show, then a drug show in the middle of the tenderloin,” Williams said. ..

One of the street photos of Harry Williams.

One of the street photos of Harry Williams.

Instagram / hwilliamsjrphoto

“It’s a really great place because I don’t know what I’m trying to see, but I’ll always see something interesting,” he added.

Harry Williams captures vibrant and intimate street photography portraits on the streets of San Francisco.

Harry Williams captures vibrant and intimate street photography portraits on the streets of San Francisco.


Instagram / hwilliamsjrphoto

Harry Williams captures vibrant and intimate street photography portraits on the streets of San Francisco.

Harry Williams captures vibrant and intimate street photography portraits on the streets of San Francisco.


Instagram / hwilliamsjrphoto

Harry J Williams street snapshot image.

Harry J Williams street snapshot image.


Harry J Williams / Instagram

Harry Williams captures vibrant and intimate street photography portraits on the streets of San Francisco.

Harry Williams captures vibrant and intimate street photography portraits on the streets of San Francisco.


Instagram / hwilliamsjrphoto


Harry J Williams / Instagram

Williams also hosts a photo show called “Serendipity” at Foreign Lens in North Beach on the first Friday of May 6th. , “He said.” I’m always wondering if the work found me or if I found it. I always thought of myself as an artist, not a photographer. The camera is just a tool. Before moving to San Francisco, I did a lot of mixed media. Media work, printing images on beer cans in the darkroom. “

For street snaps, Williams is also currently editing his images into a book titled “Eye See You” that will be released in the fall. “Currently I’m looking for a gallery or space to partner with. A portion of the book’s revenue will be returned to a local charity.”

Follow Harry Williams Jr. on Instagram and see more details on his work on his website harrywphoto.com.

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