Stranger 86/100 – Derek

100 Strangers - DerekStranger 86/100 – Derek

“Love everybody because everyone deserves it.”

Meet Derek.

What advice would you give to your younger self? “Never stop being creative.”

What is your creative outlet? “I have a few. One, I’m a therapist. I like poetry… I really like music a lot too.”

I don’t think people realize how much creativity there is in therapy… “Yeah, it takes a lot. People think all the time that ‘yeah, you’re just talking to people all day’, but the thing is there actually really is an art to communicating with several different people. Because I do group therapy… you’re talking to like twelve different individual personalities everyday. It takes a lot to know what to say, how to say and what they’re looking for out of this whole thing.”

How did you get started in that? “Basically where I grew up at… there’s a lot of things happening and therapy wasn’t a thing no-one really cared for. Especially with black people in the black community, therapy has a lot of stigmas to it. So, I’m trying to break that mold and actually trying to get people the help that they actually need”

What’s the best technique for building rapport? “Humor. I think having a sense of humor, being able to crack jokes with people, it takes the tension out of the room. So, you don’t have to be serious all the time to do this job… it’s ok to have fun.”

What is your biggest challenge right now? “Slowing down. That’s my biggest challenge because I want everything right now. So, it’s just remembering that I’m still young. I have a lot of time. Just take everything as it comes and breath and everything will be ok.”

What are your goals? Where do you want to be in ten years? “I want my own private practice. I want to be a professor at a community college. I want be a father and a husband. Yeah, have everything just kind of settled and still exploring and trying to learn new things.”

If you could put a billboard up in Charlotte, what would it say? “Love everybody because everyone deserves it.”

Technical Notes: We were out of the bright sun under an overhang of a building. I used a small LED panel to add some light to the right side of Derek’s face.

Stranger 85/100 – May

100 Strangers - MayStranger 85/100 – May

Our next stranger is a sophomore in college and had just finished finals.

Meet May.

What advice would you give to your younger self? “Be more outgoing and not care so much about what other people think.”

What made you realize that? “I met a lot of nice people. I made more friends.”

What are your biggest challenges right now? “Well, I’m a college student so just like focusing on school and also having a social life.”

Where do you want to be in ten years? “I’m trying to be an actuary. I’m trying to get a job.”

What would be the ideal job? “One that pays well. {laughs}”

If you could put a billboard up in Charlotte, what would it say? “Live life to the fullest.”

Do you feel like you do that? “I think so. I try.”

How would your friends describe you? “Probably cheerful. They always say I smile a lot.”

I can vouch for that… “{laughs}”

What would you do if you had a million dollars? “Probably buy my parents a house or something. Maybe go on vacation. Definitely travel a lot… everywhere.”

Technical Notes: It was a bright day, but we found a nice shady spot in the city to take this portrait. I used a reflector to add some light to May’s face.

Stranger 84/100 – Noor

Stranger-84–Noor.jpgStranger 84/100 – Noor

Our next stranger is from Holland and was in Charlotte visiting friends.

Meet Noor.

What advice would you give to your younger self? “Don’t be afraid. I was very afraid of things when I was younger. And I got to the point where… I did a lot of art school and theater, so I became less afraid of things.”

What is your biggest challenge right now? “Don’t take things too serious. Just do it. Stop thinking about it so much.”

Where do you want to be in ten years? ”I love to be in nature… a funny, cute little house. I would love to go back to just working your land you know… make food. It doesn’t have to be forever, but for a little bit I would love to do that.”

If you could put a billboard up in Charlotte, what would it say? “I’m more a visual person, so I would put a picture up… a spouting volcano! {laughs}”

How would your friends describe you? “I guess they would call me funny. {laughs} I don’t know!”

What do you do in Holland? “I make clothing. So that’s what I do actually for fun.”

Technical Notes: It was midday and the sun was extremely harsh. I directed Noor to a shaded walkway and had her face the bright park area behind me.

Stranger 83/100 – Sasha

100 Strangers - SashaStranger 83/100 – Sasha

Our next stranger remains a mystery…

Meet Sasha.

Do you mind if I ask you a few questions? “I have an interview… {laughs}”

Unfortunately, Sasha was in a hurry to get to a job interview and didn’t have time to answer questions. I gave her my card, so hopefully she’ll get in touch.

Technical Notes: This photo was shot in an open area with indirect light in front of a dark window.

Stranger 82/100 – Jay

100 Strangers - JayStranger 82/100 – Jay

I ran into our next stranger as he was on his way to open a bank account for his new tattoo business.

Meet Jay.

Tell me about Tattooing. When did you get into that? “I was around 19 when I got into it. My brother was the one that really was the first one to tattoo in our family. So, he got me into it.”

Where do you want to be in ten years? “Honestly, an empire. Yeah, an empire of tattoo shops, some property and definitely having a shop in Europe. I heard the Netherlands are really nice. I’ve been to Sicily. But I do want to check out the Netherlands. I’ll be going there hopefully this September. I’ll at least be able to go out there for a week and check it out and, you know, meet some people.”

What advice would you give to your younger self? “Save up every dollar. I’d start with that. When I started tattooing, I realized that I could have definitely had a shot when I was about 22.”

If you had saved up? “Yeah.”

What did you spend it all on? “Hell, I was young. {laughs} I was young, man. What did I not spend it on?”

What made you realize that you needed to save money? “I did end up in a few situations where I was actually incarcerated. I was in jail for a little while… nothing serious… just six months. After that I was like… I just need to focus on my art.”

What is your biggest challenge right now? “That’s kind of a tough one because I mean it’s like, right now, I feel like the path has cleared up a lot. So, I guess staying focused… because there’s always things that are just popping up and trying to take you off your task. Yeah, just staying focused that’s basically number one.”

Technical Notes: It was a clear, sunny day, so I positioned Jay in a shaded area facing the bright street. I used a reflector to light up his face.

Stranger 81/100 – Quamekia

100 Strangers - QuamekiaStranger 81/100 – Quamekia

“Be careful with me.”

Meet Quamekia.

What advice would you give to your younger self? “Oh my god! The advice I would give to my younger self is to stay out of trouble. Because, once you get into it, it’s very hard for people to look at you differently.”

What is your biggest challenge right now? “My biggest challenge is, as a Leo, we’re emotional people and, when it’s driven for a positive thing, it’s a really great thing. But, when we’re angry, it’s a really bad thing.”

It’s a double-edged sword…. “Right, we run off of emotion, and typically it’s never good to run off emotions. My biggest challenge is where I’m investing my energy into whether it’s positive or negative. I’m challenged with that because I’m an emotional person, so my heart is always giving, my heart is always pure, but other people’s aren’t.”

Where do you want to be in five or ten years? “PTA president of my kids school. Working a job that isn’t so strenuous on me. Always having dinner done by 6pm… no later than that. In a nice house with really, really green grass and a lot of yard so my kids can play safely. And a better grip on how I invest my emotions.”

If you could put a billboard up in Charlotte, what would it say? “Be careful with me. {laughs} Have you ever listened to the new Cardi B track ‘Be Careful’? That is what I would say if I had the opportunity to put a billboard up for myself.”

How would your friends describe you? “Fierce. Strong.”

Technical Notes: We were under a shady tree in front of a church. I used a small reflector to light up Quamekia’s face.

Stranger 80/100 – CJ

100 Strangers - CJStranger 80/100 – CJ

“Don’t let society dictate or mold you…”

Meet CJ.

What advice would you give to your younger self? “Stay original. Stay true to who you really are. Don’t let society dictate or mold you in any other way.”

Have you always thought that way? “I say it’s 50/50. I’ve always felt that way in some odd sense, but I stay true to who I am and have the outlook of positivity.”

Does it come easy to you? “Not always, no, because the world has a very big impact on the ways you think and see things and interpret, so you have to be able to project it better than you may have taken it in as.”

What is your biggest challenge right now? “A lack of knowledge… lack of knowledge of other cultures, other histories. Just to find the truth of all… of all life, of self and just unity and humanity.”

Is that possible? “You know we laugh about it and we joke and these day and times it seems it’s far fetched, it truly does. But…”

Maybe we’re getting there… “I believe we’re there, but it needs to be a more of a unification. You know, we need to come together more so than what we have. For certain reasons and situations and look past the outer aspects of it all and look for the inner aspects of it all. We can get there. I believe we can get there.”

Where do you want to be in ten years? “Married to my fiancé, financially stable, and on an island somewhere… and just seeing the betterment of humanity… seeing the world more coming together and equality. Ten years is a long time… you may not think, but a lot can change in ten years.”

Oh yeah. A lot can change in a month…. “It’s true. Good point. {laughs}”

If you could put a billboard up in Charlotte, what would it say? “Think.”

Technical Notes: We were in a well-lit, open plaza, and I used a reflector to light up CJ’s face.