A few months ago I came across a reference to the 100 Strangers project/idea for photographers. There is a Flickr group and a website, www.100Strangers.com. Those links have all the details, but the short idea is that a photographer approaches people in public, asks for permission to take some portraits, and posts the results, with the goal of reaching 100 photographs of strangers. Candid shots you take without the subjects knowledge do not count. You have to interact with the subjects. I have been toying with the idea of undertaking the project, and probably will start in the spring or summer.
In the meantime, I had the pleasure of having someone ask me to take his picture a few weeks ago. Joel is a dentist in Sylacauga, Alabama. Among other passions, he has a fondness for bicycling in cities at night, and has well-developed ideas about which cities are best. For a recent trip to New York, he shipped a bicycle and went exploring on a warmish winter night. He ran into me at Columbus Circle, while I was taking this photo. He came up to me just as I was finishing the last exposure and asked if I would take his picture. He offered me a card and explained that nobody would believe he was doing what he was doing without pictures.
It was fortunate that I had just finished, because the last few shots in a bracketed set at night can take a couple of minutes. As it was, I had to switch away from my super-wide 14-24mm telephoto to a Tamron 28-300, which is my full-frame all-purpose lens. Its biggest weakness is it doesn’t have a particularly wide aperture (f3.5-6.3 depending on length), but it compensates a bit with Tamron’s version of vibration reduction which it calls Vibration Compensation (VC). I also had to quickly fumble through all the needed setting changes, like turning off auto-bracketing, increasing the ISO and adjusting to a faster shutter speed. Joel was patient enough to wait for this, and then we fired off 8-10 shots. I was lucky, given how unprepared I was, that 2-3 of them came out OK, and the 2 best are shown here. After we finished he asked for advice for purchasing a good cigar, and I’m afraid I wasn’t much help, but I understand he managed to find one and enjoyed it in Times Square a few minutes later. He is also a regular visitor to NY and teaches a course at the NYU School of Dentistry,
I emailed him the images about a week later, and he also graciously answered a few questions so I could incorporate some more detail about his trip in this post. I am not counting this as an official 100 Strangers photo, and therefore designating it as “0 of 100,” because I wasn’t really thinking about the project, and haven’t yet committed to it. The pleasure of this experience, however, makes it more likely I will do so. Thanks Joel.