Monthly Archives: October 2017

Stranger 10/100 – Alex

100 Strangers - AlexAfter I asked this young woman if I could take her portrait for a project, she smiled and playfully replied “Well, it depends on what kind of project it is.” Upon learing about the 100 Strangers Project, she agreed right away.

Meet Alex.

Alex moved to Charlotte six months ago from Detroit, and she works for an insurance company. She enjoys being outdoors, hiking and spending time with her dog named “Moose”.

Her advice to her younger self is to “live life from the vantage point of your deathbed.” In other words, live your life in such a way that you have no regrets when it’s over. She explained that her move from Detroit to Charlotte was in keeping with this philosophy.

Alex is very outgoing and was a joy to photograph. There were so many great shots, but I chose this one because I feel it best represents her.

Nice to meet you Alex, and I hope you continue to enjoy your life in Charlotte. Thanks for being part of my 100 Strangers Project.

Technical Notes: It was a cloudy day, so the light wasn’t too harsh. A reflector could have helped fill the shadows on her left side however, I’ve decided to keep things simple and leave the reflector at home for the time being. I want to get more experience before I add another distraction to the process.

Stranger 9/100 – Anthony

100 Strangers - AnthonyWalking down College Street, I heard some cool R&B guitar sounds and a drum machine. When I followed the sound to its source, I ran into this cool cat.

Meet Anthony.

Anyone who works in uptown Charlotte has certainly seen and/or heard Anthony play as he’s out there on the street working it almost every day.

Anthony is a rhythm guitarist who’s been playing for 43 years. He’s performed in many places including New York, Florida and New Jersey, but he now calls Charlotte home. Anthony said “This is where I work. This is what I do for a living, man. I’m here all year long… November, December, January, February…”

He told me about the different musicians he’s known over the years including members of the Funkadelics and Kool and the Gang. The bass player he plays with now is the son of Al Green. Besides busking, Anthony also performs at his church.

I wanted to learn more about him, but felt like I had already taken too much of his time. It was amazing to meet you Anthony and best of luck.

Technical Notes: It was a clear sunny day, but Anthony was located in a nice shady spot on a street corner. The sun was behind him to his right. No flash or reflector used.

Here’s another shot of Anthony in action:
100 Strangers - Anthony

Stranger 8/100 – Demetria

100 Strangers - DemetriaIt was the earrings that first caught my eye, then I noticed the beautiful woman wearing them taking a selfie in front of a statue (the same one where I met Abigail).

Meet Demetria.

Demetria was born in Charlotte and has been here for 37 years. She’s looking to start school in January to study forensic and criminal justice technology (she says “I read in between the lines of everything”). She hopes to eventually move to a larger city like Atlanta.

The advice Demetria would give to her younger self is “when people show you who they are, believe them.”

Our talk took a much more serious tone after I asked Demetria to describe her perfect day. She started off mentioning things like getting up, feeding her kids and getting them off to school. Then she said “Just waking up and being alive considering my story and what I’ve been through…”

I asked if she felt comfortable sharing, and she said “I don’t have a problem with my story.”

“As a teenager I had abandonment issues. My mom left. My dad and mom both were heroin addicts. My mom actually passed away from a chronic illness when I was 23.”

“I chose the wrong path in life. Between the ages of maybe 13 and 16 is when I started dibbing and dabbing with drugs. I started out with just alchohol and marijuana. I started hardcore drugs at the age of 26. I started slowly but surely losing things in my life, and I still couldn’t admit that I was an addict. I didn’t feel I had a problem until, you know, you start sleeping on people’s couches and you have 3 kids that you have to take care of. I said ‘Ok Demetria, it’s time to get it together. It’s time to do something different.'”

“I did go to rehab. That didn’t work for me because I didn’t want to do the authority thing and be under somebady else’s rule. I do make meetings every day. I’m actually on my way to one at 2 o’clock. I have a sponsor that has a sponsor for them.”

“I live my life real simple today because I have to be mindful of my triggers so I won’t go back out. None of us are exempt especially if you have the disease of addiction. I have the traits in me from my dad and mom being addicts. I’m very aware and mindful of people, places and things.”

“Living a simpler life helps and taking one day at a time.”

Before we parted ways, I asked Demetria if there was anything we talked about that she didn’t want me to share. She said she didn’t have a problem with my sharing her story, and she expressed the hope that her story would help others.

It was a pleasure to meet you Demetria. Your abiity to overcome adversity with so much grace is inspiring.

Technical Notes: This photo was taken in natural light with no flash or reflectors.

Stranger 7/100 – CJ

Stranger-7-CJStranger 7/100 – CJ

When making street portraits you have good days and bad days. This was definitely a good day…

As I Walked down Tryon Street, I spotted this handsome and stylish man sitting on a bench.

Meet CJ.

CJ just arrived in Charlotte from his home in Washington DC. He’s here visiting family and friends, and so far he thinks Charlotte is very pretty. When not working he said he’s “just chilling.”

CJ is very friendly and laid back. He has a relaxed sense of confidence that permeates through the camera lens. He put up no barriers and left no distance between his face and the camera.

This project has already taught me about the power of connecting with strangers. My encounter with CJ only lasted 60 seconds, but with a simple gesture of reaching out, I was able to briefly stare into the eyes of a stranger. I was able to capture a timeless image of someone that I otherwise might have walked by without even noticing.

Thank you CJ for being part of my project.

Technical Notes: This photo was taken in natural light in a shaded area. He was somewhat backlit, but I was able to bring up his skin tones in Lightroom. I took pictures from two different angles. They both looked good, but the backgrounds weren’t very attractive. Once I saw this tight crop, I got goosebumps.

Stranger 6/100 – Donna

Stranger-6-DonnaWhile hanging around Tryon Street near The Green (a small Charlotte park with a world literature theme), I spotted an interesting couple walking around one side of a circular grassy area. I quickly walked around the other side so I could “casually” run into them.

They said they were in a hurry, so I had to act fast and wasn’t able to ask them many questions.

Meet Donna.

Donna is from Costa Rica and was visiting Charlotte with her companion Fuji. Her beautiful red scarf and purple eyeglass frames definitely accentuate her bubbly personality. She was enthusiastic about my 100 Strangers project and was very gracious to give a few minutes of her time.

Meeting you and Fuji was one of the highlights of my day. I hope you enjoy the rest of your time in Charlotte.

Technical Notes: This photo was shot out in the open on a relatively sunny day. The sun was behind a cloud providing us with nice soft light. No flash or reflectors used.

Stranger 5/100 – Aleah

100 Strangers - AleahWalking by Two Wells Fargo Plaza, I noticed this beautiful, soft light that seemed perfect for a portrait. I quickly looked around for a suitable stranger and, as luck would have it, this young, photogenic female was walking by.

Meet Aleah.

Aleah is 19 and lives in Charlotte. She was in the uptown area with her boyfriend and is currently in the process of enrolling into a community college.

When aksed what she does when she’s not working or going to school, she replied “Right now I’m very much of a homebody.”

When asked what advice she would give her younger self, she said “Look up more.” In other words, get out of your bubble and your head and pay more attention to the outside world. In today’s technological world, this is advice we can all take to heart.

It was a pleasure to meet you Aleah especially under such serendipitous conditions. Thanks so much for participating in my 100 Strangers project.

Technical Notes: This photo was taken in an open plaza with light grey pavers. The sun was behind a building and the light was very soft. If I could do it over, I would have rotated her 90 degrees counter clockwise to light her face more evenly and reduce the shadow on her right side.

Stranger 4/100 – Abigail

100 Strangers - Abby
As I walked past the Bank of America building in downtown Charlotte, a young lady asked about the reflector I had hanging from my hip. I explained what it was used for and then quickly told her about my 100 Strangers project. I asked her if I could take her portrait and she quickly said yes.

Meet Abigail.

Since we were in harsh sunlight, I suggested we keep moving until we find some shade. Abigail was adamant that we visit a particular statue and made a big point about how much it looked like an erect penis (it actually did).

Abigail has worked in the copy center of the Fifth Third Bank building for about a year. She wants to start her own business — a web site that promotes all-natural organic products. One of her slogans is “When you’re healthy, you’re happy.”

The advice she would give her younger self is: “I would have stuck to the first thing i went to school for — Business Administration. I changed my major so many times.”

When asked what message she would put on a billboard, without hesitation, she said “Eat more plants!”

Her alternate billboard message was “Share the love”. She went on to say “So many times we’re so egotistic and we’re just all about ourselves. We all share the same emotions. What you want, I want. Just to be happy and to have love. So many times we just put people down. It’s easier to tear people down than to build them up.”

It was a pleasure to meet you Abigail and thank you for the inspiration.

Technical Notes: This photo was taken in natural light with no flash or reflectors. We were in complete shade from the building she was standing in front of. I chose a tight crop to focus the viewer on Abigail’s face.