ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — JP Elario has been photographing weddings for almost 30 years. He took over Elario Photography from his father, who started the business in 1984. In 2014, he started offering free pop-up portraits to random people in the street.

Elario said he wanted to offer people a chance to get in front of the camera, and walk away with a few images that he hoped would make them feel good about themselves. He said it was a little bit of a social experiment at first.

“I wanted to see how many people I could reach if I threw a post out there the morning of the pop-ups on Insta, Facebook, and Twitter,” said Elario.

During the first pop-up, he photographed over 40 people. As the popularity of the pop-ups grew, Elario said he photographed fewer random people and more people who knew the event was going to happen. During his second pop-up in Saratoga Springs in 2014, more people showed up than the first.

The photos Elario takes during the pop-ups up are in black and white, and against a white background. He doesn’t charge for the photos because then it would essentially be a “job” for him. Elario said this is a project that he enjoys doing.

In 2021, Elario began to partner with DJ Trumastr for the pop-up events. DJ Trumastr is a touring DJ based out of Albany, who is inspired by the classic sounds of jazz, funk, hip hop, R&B, and soul.

DJ Trumastr during the 2021 pop-up (Elario Photography)

“Last year, I decided I wanted to amp up the event and add some music that was not a Bluetooth speaker. Tru makes art when he’s behind his table. Essentially the vibes he puts out there musically fuel my creativity and give me life to make some fun portraits. He’s the soundtrack to my pop-up portraits,” said Elario.

Everyone who comes to the event writes a journal entry with their name, age, and something they want to say. They also sign a release form so Elario can use the images and pair the journal entry next to one of their photos. Elario said he finds it interesting what people’s handwriting looks like next to their faces.

Elario’s portrait from the 2021 pop-up. All the portraits are styled like this (Elario Photography).

Elario said the whole process of being photographed takes about two to three minutes, but people will wait up to 30 to 40 minutes in line. “There is no sign-up. You just show up, let your guard down and we shoot.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Elario offered pop-up portraits over FaceTime. This was the only time he charged for the photos because he needed to supplement the loss of business from having to shut down. Elario said he photographed over 250 people during the course of three to four weeks.

Elario has done five pop-ups so far: two in 2014, one in 2016, one in 2019, and one in 2021. Last year, he photographed about 120 people during the event.

The 2021 pop-up portraits event (Elario Photography)

Elario’s next pop-up was scheduled for Thursday, May 19, but was canceled due to the weather. The pop-up has been rescheduled for Tuesday, May 31 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at The Point in Albany.

You can follow Elario’s Instagram page to see when he announces the next pop-ups.