Photographing A Stranger

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Last autumn I received an interesting reply to one of my personal ads, which I had posted on the Gumtree website.

I posted an ad saying I was looking for new friends in the area, and one of the replies I received was from a student photographer called Sam.

Sam the student photographer

He sent me a link to his photography, which you can view here, and I liked his style.

Sam is a student at the University of Creative Arts in Farnham.

As part of his course, he had to find a stranger and photograph them over a series of months. That stranger turned out to be me, as he found my ad on the Gumtree site.

Nickelback - Photograph

First meeting

I was looking forward to meeting Sam, as I enjoy photography as a hobby, and once considered pursing it as a career myself. You can view some of my own photography here.

Spoon - I Turn My Camera On

I first met Sam around early autumn last year. He came by train from Farnham to meet me at Guildford station.

Sam was a friendly young student in his early twenties, who had previously been living outside of Surrey.

He told me about his photography course, and about his previous projects that he had been given.

Sam liked using an old SLR film camera, and developed his pictures himself at the universities lab. He brought along his film camera with him when he took pictures of me.

The style of pictures Sam was going for was un-posed and natural, with me doing everyday things like having a meal and drinking in a pub, walking to places, and that kind of thing. He did not want a picture postcard effect.

I guess I was hoping for some studio posed pictures of me looking my best, which I could use to make me look good on dating websites. Autumn and winter is not a good time to photograph me, as I catch every cold going, and look heavy-eyed and pale during these seasons. However, I was still interested in helping Sam by being his photographic subject with me pictured doing everyday kind of stuff.

A Flock Of Seagulls - Wishing (If I Had A Photograph of You)

I took Sam for a walk around some of the more scenic spots in Guildford.

We first walked along the River Wey, but he didn’t take many shots along that route. I have been down the River Wey many times, which you can read about here.

Then we visited the Guildford Castle Grounds and went inside the Guildford Castle. I like the Castle Grounds, which you can read about here.

Sam took a few pictures of me inside the viewing platform on top of the castle. I look quite funny as though I’m inside a cage or prison. The final shot is of me walking out one of the exits of the castle.


Let me out

The view from the top of Guildford Castle

Leaving Guildford Castle

Sam took a shot of the winding passage that led to the bowling green within the Castle Grounds.

The winding passageway in the Castle Grounds

The bandstand was the next place we visited. I stood under the leaves of a tree, and Sam took a few more pictures.

Under the tree

We then walked back towards the river. Together we went along the riverbank as far as St Catherine’s, which is ruined chapel on top of the hill. Sam took more pictures on his camera, some of St Catherine’s and one of me. Its also a place I've been to many times, read here.

St Catherine's

Me standing on St Catherine's Hill

As we were close to my friend Frog’s cottage, I decided to pop in to see Frog for a coffee. You can read about my past escapades with Frog here.

Frog made us coffee and I introduced him to Sam. Frog also used to enjoy photography as a hobby. He gave Sam some slide film, as he had no further use for it, and thought Sam would find it useful to use for his course.

After we finished our coffees, I walked Sam back to the train station.

Second Meeting

The second meeting in Guildford followed the week after. I invited Sam to join me out with some friends to go to a stand up comedy event in the Stoke pub. I have been to many comedy events there, which you can read about here.

I met Sam at Guildford train station, and we went for a drink in the bar of Old Orleans whilst we waited for the others to arrive.

Sam took just one photo that night, which is of me sat at a table waiting for the others to arrive in Old Orleans.

Me waiting inside Old Orleans

He gave me a disposable camera and asked me to take some pictures of things I do. Sam said that I can use up all the pictures, and give him back the camera the next time I see him, for him to develop them.

The others did eventually arrive, and then we went to see the stand up comedy event together.

Third Meeting

For the third meeting in Guildford, I took Sam for a meal at the Ye Olde Ship Inn. It’s a good place to have a nice pizza. I’ve been there before with friends, which you can read about here.

Autumn had started to make the trees shed their brown and yellow leaves. I enjoy taking autumn photography shots myself, which you can see here.

On the way to the pub, Sam took some good picture of me walking down a passageway. The leaves match the brown colours of my clothes.

Me walking

Inside the Ye OldeShip Inn, we got some drinks from the bar, and sat at a table by the window. We ordered our pizzas. I gave Sam back the disposable camera with the pictures I had taken.

Sam took some pictures of me waiting for my meal, looking at the menu, of my meal, and me eating. I guess felt a bit uncomfortable being photographed whilst I was eating.


Seeing what's on offer on the menu

Waiting for my food

Starting off with goats cheese salad

Enjoying my spicy chicken pizza

It was a big pizza, I couldn’t eat it all at once, so I ask one of the bar staff to put it in a box for me, so I could eat it later.

Sam then photographed me walking back to the train station, and making a phone call, with my pizza in its box in my hand.

Making a call

Taking home my pizza

My pizza which I'll finish off later

Forth Meeting

For the forth meeting, we returned to the Stoke pub in Guildford, which is where we saw the comedy event together at an earlier meeting.

We had a few drinks, thought about having food, then thought against it, and Sam took some more pictures.

Received a text

Checking out the Stoke pub menu

I then took Sam to Stoke Park, a place that has happy childhood memories, and a place near where I went to college many years ago.

I showed Sam the gardens of Stoke Park, the pond, and the mini lake, which I used to sail model sailing boats and operate radio-controlled boats on its surface.

Me in the gardens of Stoke Park

An empty bench

The stepping stones in Stoke Park

The pond

Me walking towards the pond

The mini lake

We then crossed the bridge over the lake to get to the mini island.

The bridge across to the island in the lake

Crossing the bridge

Standing on the bridge

Stepping across the island's stepping stones

It all looked much bigger when I was younger. I used to catch stickleback fish from the lake, tadpoles from the pond, play in the playground, and run around the gardens with childhood friends.

I showed Sam the Sensory Garden. It was a small garden, which has strong smelling herbs, brightly coloured leaves, plants and flowers, spikey things, and long grass, which rustles in the wind. Sam took a picture of a Robin in one of the borders.

The spikey bushes of the Sensory Garden

Rustling grasses

Me deep in thought

A Robin

We then went into the main park area. I used to go kite flying with my grandfather in this part of the park. I still remember the tree in which my kite got stuck in all those years ago.

The tree in which my kite once got stuck

I showed Sam the long path, which I learnt how to ride a bike as a young boy with my Dad. He took a picture of it.

The path in which I learnt how to ride a bike

This part of the park also has more recent memories for me, like my 30th birthday partyGuilfest, and firework events.

In the middle of Stoke Park

That day I unfortunately kept on receiving text messages. Sam took some amusing pictures of me standing in the middle of nowhere fiddling around with my mobile.

Text messages

We also past a skateboarding area. I stood by a wall, which had graffiti, and Sam took my picture.


As we left the park Sam took pictures of squirrels and trees.

A squirrel climbs a tree

Another squirrel comes down from a tree

Sam gave me another disposable camera to use up.

I walked Sam back to the station; it was an interesting day out.

Fifth Meeting

On the fifth meeting, and final meeting where Sam took pictures, he wanted to go for a meal.

We went in Wetherspoons.

I often go in Wetherspoons for drinks with friends. It used to be one of the places I went most of all when I once had a large collection of workmates, which I sadly don’t see so much now, since we all left the firm over two years ago.

We had a meal, and he took pictures of me talking, drinking and eating.

Me in Wetherspoons


Rum and coke


Plenty of sauce

Squeezing out the sauce



Sam also showed me some of the pictures he had developed himself, and took more pictures of me looking at them.

Looking through Sam's photos of me

I gave Sam the disposable camera he had previously given me, filled with the pictures I had taken of my outings and at home.

After we had eaten, we left Wetherspoons, and I took Sam to a walled garden by the river.

Sam took some pictures of me in the walled garden, the last one of me is walking away, which was quite adapt.

The walled garden


On my way

Final Meeting

The last time I saw Sam, was for another meal together in Wetherspoons, this time without his camera snapping away.

Sam gave me some pictures he had developed and a DVD with the other pictures on them.

After the meal I thanked Sam for the pictures, I told him it was nice to meet him. I wished him all the best with his photography course and gaining a career in it. I would like a job doing photography, its more fun than being stuck in an office five days a week.

He did very well, as not had he only photographed a stranger, he had photographed a strange person, this being me.

I enjoyed meeting Sam, he was very polite and friendly.

Maybe I will catch up with him later this year to see how he is doing with his photography course.

Check out the disposable camera snaps that were taken by me and some friends below.

Me in my previous bedroom in Cranleigh writing my blog

Me sitting on my bed in my previous bedroom in Cranleigh

Me in my car

Me standing in Guildford High Street close to Xmas 2009

Me at the Xmas market in Guildford High Street

Guildford High Street

The Xmas lights of Guildford High Street

Xmas shoppers in Guildford High Street

A Native American band playing in Guildford High Street

Inside the Star pub in Guildford

Me enjoying drinking a gin and tonic inside the Star pub

My friend Mark drinking coffee inside the Star pub

Inside the Tickled Ivory bar in Guildford

Gabriella and me inside the Tickled Ivory bar

Tristan driving us to Birmingham to see the Memorabilia event very early in the morning

Tristan heading towards the Birmingham NEC to see the Memorabilia event

Me standing near the queue to the Memorabilia event

The queue waiting to get inside the Memorabilia event

Stars signing at the Memorabilia event

Two famous time machines close to each other;- Doctor Who's Tardis on the left, and the car from the Back to the Future movies at the front

Tristan browsing DVD's at the Memorabilia event

A collection of masks at the Memorabilia event

A robot at the Memorabilia event

A Terminator at the at the Memorabilia event

A Dalek at the Memorabilia event

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