Stranger 44/100 – Lindsey

Stranger-44–Lindsey.jpgI caught our next stranger while she was slightly lost and looking for the post office.

Meet Lindsey.

What advice would you give to your younger self? “I know it sounds corny, but just being myself. I spent so much time being all these different versions of myself, but it wasn’t until college that I actually tried being true to myself.”

What changed? “I fell in love. And he helped me fall in love with the parts of me that I tried to hide for so long.”

What is your greatest struggle right now? “Feeling like I’m experiencing a mid-life crisis at the age of 24. I really don’t know what I’m doing with my life, or what I want to be, or where I’m heading. But maybe that’s normal. I hope so.”

Technical Notes: This photo was taken in an open plaza with natural light. There was a bright reflection of the sun in in the building she was facing providing a nice catch light in her eyes.

Stranger 43/100 – Lillian

100 Strangers - LillianI saw our next stranger walking by as I was interviewing stranger #41 Tim. I regretted not being able to approach her for a portrait. Luckily, I ran into her a little later…

Meet Lillian.

What brings you uptown? “I’m a librarian uptown actually. {laughs} But, I also love to walk around because I love the scenery. That’s the best thing about Charlotte. I get inspiration here because I’m a singer…”

Tell me more… “So, I have an album coming out next year in February called 1687, but I actually recorded my first video uptown because I love being up here so much. I just look around at the places where we recorded before and I just look at how Charlotte is changing. My Nana actually worked at this building right here. She worked for Wells Fargo back when it was First Union and Wachovia. She passed away in ‘06. I kind of feel close to her up here… I love trench coats, and she always had one.”

I feel like locations have a memory of some sort… “Right! Literally I was passing by… it was a certain scene in my video. It was 5th and Tryon, that corner, and I was looking there and just thinking about my friend who played my love interest, he’s in LA, and just to go to that spot like I feel him even though he’s not there.”

What advice would you give to your younger self? “Always go for it. Go extremely hard. Go hard for your goals and your dreams and like never give up. And, love yourself at the moment because you always miss that timeframe. You might think that you’re nothing or you’re not beautiful, but as the years pass you look back at those moments and you’re like, wait no, I was beautiful or I could have gone harder or I could have accomplished a goal. So, literally, like live in the now, be grateful and enjoy every moment.”

How would you describe your music? “You kind of feel it in your soul. It’s just me. I’m a vibrant person. So even with slow songs or fast songs, I like the music to be vivid. If you don’t feel the lyrics, you usually feel the beat or the rhythm. Yeah, life is like music… it has memories, it has feelings.”

What is your biggest challenge right now? “My biggest challenge right now is to know that I can… or reaching success. And when I say success, whatever I feel like success is… happiness or just accomplishing goals. Because you just have so many stumbling blocks. You sometimes are afraid. You’re afraid of success, and you don’t know if you can get there. So the struggle is just knowing that I should just keep going and just to see whatever happens… and to be ok with whatever happens.”

It’s easy to give up or doubt yourself… “Right, right, right. It’s taken a long time and I’m 30… It’s been the doubt that has followed me for a very long time. Just getting rid of the doubt. Yep, the doubt… getting rid of the doubt is the biggest challenge right now.”

If you could put a billboard up in Charlotte, what would it say? “Love yourself and love others no matter what.”

It was inspiring to meet you Lillian. Thank you for being part of my 100 Strangers Project.

Technical Notes: This photo was taken with natural light in an open plaza. I was initially concerned that there wasn’t enough separation between her trench coat and the background, but I soon came to like the overall high key look.

I’m very happy to call Lillian a friend. Since our initial stranger encounter, we’ve done two photo shoots together to create some promotional shots. Her debut album will be released in February. In the meantime, you can see her video for Queen (Wipe Me Down) which was shot here in Charlotte. Fun fact: At the 12 second mark you can see Stranger #9, Anthony, playing guitar.

Stranger 42/100 – Desi

Stranger-42–DesiOur next stranger stood out from the crowd of bustling people returning to work from lunch. I caught him while he was hanging out before going to work.

Meet Desi.

Desi has been skateboarding for eleven years. “I hang out with a bunch of locals in the neighborhood. There’s a bunch of skaters in Charlotte.”

What advice would you give to your younger self? “Listen to my parents. I kind of flew my own way.”

What would they have told you? “Stay in school. Go to college.”

What are your goals? “Right now, I’ve got this big old skateboarding thing going on. Hopefully I’ll be taking off with that.”

Are you trying to get sponsored? “I’ve been courting them for about four years. I’ve got to send more videos out.”

Thank you Desi for being part of the 100 Strangers Project. Best of luck in getting sponsored.

Stranger 41/100 – Tim

Stranger-41–Tim.jpgOur next stranger had such a cool look that I had to approach him and learn what he’s all about.

Meet Tim.

What brings you uptown? “Well, I work across the street at Charlotte Center City Partners. I’m the artist in residence there, so I do all the music programming for all the city funded events. So, right now I’m working on the big Thanksgiving parade that’s going to be on this street.”

What advice would give to your younger self? “Be patient. I’m a musician. My father was a professional musician. I grew up surrounded by some of the most talented and gifted musicians and artists and singers in the world. You know what I mean? I think, because of that, I’ve spent my whole life in a rush to get somewhere. So I’ve seen that life takes it’s own course. You kind of get to sit back and enjoy the ride. Patience is everything.”

What are your goals? “When I was younger, I wanted to work for a record label, but the record industry is non-existent. I started managing some groups a few years ago, and I really enjoyed it and had a really good knack for it. People started calling me and having me put things together. That kind of took me to the event production and event management world, and I’ve really taken strongly to it. So I just want to keep growing in that capacity. And I don’t know what that looks like yet. I don’t know if that means I’m going to start my own event management company one day or if I’ll just freelance… I don’t know yet. But, I’m enjoying this space. I’ve learned to be patient, so I’m not going to rush myself this time around.”

So you must be a people person? “Oh, yeah. Absolutely. I have to be.”

Being a musician might be kind of lonely? “It’s only lonely if you make it a lonely existence. I’ve never been in the spotlight. I play drums. You know what I mean? I’ve never been at the front of the stage in the spotlight. Sometimes for those kind of people it can be lonely I guess because there may be a different pressure”

“I feel like singers and musicians, we’re all part of the same community… the sound technicians and the roadies and the tech guys have the same relationships that you have. It’s just about knowing your place and understanding that we’re all in this together and we all need each other to make these shows work.”

“Everybody has to feel important and I want to make everybody feel comfortable enough to where they feel good about doing their job. So, at the end of the day, we can all leave the event feeling good about what we did. That’s important.“

Technical Notes: Tim was well lit from the street on his right side, and I used a small LED panel from below to add more light to the left side of his face.

Stranger 40/100 – Katelyn

Stranger-40–KatelynI met our next stranger after she and her companion got kicked out of a black tie event at Belk Theater.

Meet Katelyn.

“Well, I really thought there was an opera tonight, and there is an opera. My school told me I could come to the opera and it would be complimentary. We came on the wrong night and we just got kicked out of Belk Theater because we were so underdressed. And we didn’t realize it was such a big thing and I came on the wrong night, so we just got kicked out.”

Well, you seem well dressed to me… “That’s what we thought! I even asked them ‘do I look ok?’”

What advice would you give to your younger self? “Stand up for the things you believe in as soon as you can. Stand up for yourself because I didn’t do it fast enough.”

And what made you realize that? “Basically, I was always quiet, and I let people tell me what to do and just kind of push me around. I just hit this point where I got tired of saying yes to everyone and just wanted to tell them that I’m not ok with it.”

Do you have any goals? “Yeah, I’m actually in college to be a photojournalist. My goal is to travel a lot. I’ve been travelling a lot recently and I’m trying just to keep travelling as much as I can and meeting as many people as I can. And I’m sad I didn’t come out with my camera tonight, but I didn’t know…”

What makes you interested in photojournalism? “I started really young doing mission work, and a lot of people saw the people that we were helping as exotic and poor people and like Neanderthals. I just feel like I got on a different level with them and I understand these people. I want to use photojournalism as an outlet for people to see people for who they truly are rather than what they assume they are.”

Where would you want to go on your first assignment? “I started doing mission work in Honduras and that’s where my home is and all my people and my heart and all my friends. I would love to go back and just really show who they are.”

What would you do if you had a million dollars? “If I had a million dollars… I’ve actually been thinking about that lately. A large chunk of it would go to my mom… single mom, hard times, you know… love my mom. Probably to Puerto Rico… probably to Honduras and probably to Charlotte’s education system. And then I would want to buy or build a small cabin because I’ve always wanted a tiny house. 400 square foot… that’s what I’ve wanted my whole life.”

Thank you Katelyn and best of luck in your photojournalism career.

Technical Notes: This is the second night portrait I’ve attempted with a handheld LED light. I set the light to a warm setting (3200K) and correspondingly set the color temperature to 3200K in Lightroom. The ISO registered at 500, adding a little noise, and the bokeh lights got burned in a little bit. To fix this next time, I’ll turn the light up to a brighter level.

Stranger 39/100 – Mel

Stranger-39–Mel.jpgI spotted our next stranger near the library and regretted not approaching him for a portrait. Luckily, I ran into him again near 4th Street.

Meet Mel.

What brings you uptown today? “Travelling, actually. A few people, we’re on a camping tour, and we’re just kind of hanging out right now until things liven up, until the event starts.”

Where do you come from? “New Haven, Connecticut.”

What advice would you give to your younger self? “Probably be a little bit more patient and less temper, ready to strike on people so much.”

What changed all of that? “Life… struggles changed a lot of things for me.”

What is your biggest challenge right now? “I don’t know, so it’s a mystery {laughs}. The biggest challenge hasn’t happened yet. It’s just small challenges.”

What is your passion? “My passion is making things. I like to make jewelry. I like meeting people. I like communicating and talking.”

How would your friends describe you? “They would describe me as odd. Most of them look at me in a way where I have good energy, so they like to be around me, but they also see that I’m a little bit crazy too. So they just kind of deal with me.”

Technical Notes: We were on a shady street corner, and Mel was facing some bright buildings.

Stranger 38/100 – Bini

100 Strangers - Bini“I’m a food blogger, so I go around Charlotte trying different food. It’s called Bini Eats.”

Meet Bini.

What does food mean to you? “I just want to share different culture’s food. A lot of people are so comfortable with what they’re eating. They don’t want to go out and try new food. I want to show that Charlotte is beautiful and there’s so many good places that I want to share.”

What advice would you give to your younger self? “Love yourself. You know I moved from Nepal when I was little and I’ve always tried to adjust with everyone around me, like try to be them. But then, I forget the unique me. I’m from Nepal, that already makes me unique, and I want to like express that and love myself.”

How old were you when you moved here? “Ten. I’ve moved from places to places, different schools all the time, so it’s always been adjusting myself. I think I’m happy where I am right now.”

What is your biggest challenge? “My passion is to travel, and I’m just looking for ways to travel around the world, share people’s stories, find different, unique food and explore places that people have never been before.”

Where do you want to be in ten years? “You know, I’ve always been in a family where all you do is get a job, get married, have kids… it’s always been like that. In my family everyone is a doctor or a dentist, you know, so there’s high hopes. There’s like that thing that’s set on me that you have to do something like that. But, honestly, I just want to find peace of mind maybe be like in a tropical island selling ice cream to little kids, doing yoga… in that spiritual vibe. I just want to find that.”

Technical Notes: Bini chose this colorful mural as the backdrop for her portrait, and it definitely suits her personality. I used a small LED panel to light up the left side of her face.