Monthly Archives: November 2017

Stranger 27/100 – Jill

100 Strangers - JillI had only just arrived uptown when I spotted our next stranger sitting on a bench taking a break from work. What a great start to the day.

Meet Jill.

What advice would you give to your younger self? “Don’t follow the crowd.”

What are your goals? “Hopefully my band will take off. I’m a lead vocalist. I actually met the lead guitarist on Craig’s List Musicians. He had the perfect style of music, and he and I wrote about eleven songs in a month and a half.”

Do you have a name for the band? “Forever May Fall… and we’re looking for our drummer and we’re ready to go.”

Are you connected with the music scene in Charlotte? “There’s actually a really great music scene. I’ve been in and out of it with open mics and stuff. It’s a little hard to find a dedicated drummer because they seem to kind of spread themselves thin. The three of us in my band are very dedicated, so we’re trying to find somebody that has the dedication to match and can also match the music style. Otherwise we’re doing pretty good.”

Can you describe the style of music? “If Breaking Benjamin and Flyleaf had a baby. {laughs}”

How would your friends describe you? “I do what I want. {laughs} Free spirit, leader… I don’t care what anybody thinks. I stick to my guns. That’s me… the most lovable asshole you’ll ever meet. {laughs}”

Technical Notes: We were in a well-lit area next to the curb. Her eyes really popped with this angle, so I had to pick this one for the project.

Stranger 26/100 – Reggie

Stranger-26–Reggie“You wanna take my picture?” Sometimes the tables are turned and a stranger approaches you…

Meet Reggie.

What brings you to uptown Charlotte? “Well, they have something to eat at 3 o’clock at King’s Kitchen (a local restaurant that helps feed and employ the poor). I have no money. I can eat at 3 o’clock or I can go home. I have a place to stay.”

He started showing me the contents of his wallet including an SSI disability debit card, an expired bus transfer and the ID from the men’s shelter he stays at.

“I have no money until Monday.”

Were you born in Charlotte? “I was born in Connecticut… Bridgeport, Connecticut. My mom and dad were in the Air Force. I came here… I walked from Virginia… Norfolk, Virginia. Hitchhiked. My Mom and Dad put me in a shelter after I graduated from High School. And I walked here from Virginia.”

“I have ADD. I lose things.”

Reggie described growing up in a military family… “I stayed in Alaska, Nebraska, Maryland, DC. My Dad had a bar… he’s a Master Sargent, retired. Right now he works… I don’t know where he works. My mom’s a nurse. I went to Elementary School in Virginia. In Alaska, I went to High School”

“In Alaska, I fell in love with this girl… Danielle was my first love. She had extensions. {singing} ‘I can tell you how I feel about you Nite and Day’ Al B. Sure. Every time I hear that song… that was my song. A long time ago…”

Technical Notes: This was taken on a sunny day in the shade. This was one of the last pictures I took after I interviewed him. I didn’t pose him or direct him in any way.

Stranger 25/100 – Jessica

Stranger-25–Jessica.jpgI met our next stranger while she was taking a walk and getting out of the office for a while.

Meet Jessica.

Jessica graduated from University of North Florida two years ago and currently works as an HR Coordinator/Recruiter for a staffing firm.

What are you doing when you’re not working? “I have a five month old, so I’m very busy at home with the baby. Aside from that, I’m really involved in church. I’m really big on family, so whenever I can be with my family, I’m with them. I’m trying to learn how to cook. I’m not a really good cook. I have a son who likes to eat, so I figure I need to know how to cook.”

What advice would you give to your younger self? “Not to rush the seasons of life. Enjoy everything… the good times and the bad times. Enjoy it because it only lasts for a moment. Recently I had a good friend of mine from college that passed away. So I just look back and, oh my goodness, like those moments, you know, we didn’t realize that we were cherishing those moments. You really have to enjoy every season of life because tomorrow’s not promised.”

What would you do if you received a million dollars? “Well, of course I would try to give back to the community. I would put up some so for me to live the rest of my life so I don’t have to work everyday. I’d probably invest the rest of it.”

How would your friends describe you? “Oh, extremely outgoing, the life of the party, loud… I’m really loud. My voice carries.”

Thank you Jessica for lighting up my day and for being part of my project.

Technical Notes: It was a clear day and we had soft, even light where we were located on the sidewalk.

Stranger 24/100 – Josiah

100 Strangers - JosiahOn the Saturday evening before Halloween, amid the horde of costumed party people, I spotted this young man who reminded me of a young Leif Garrett.

Meet Josiah.

Josiah was born in Charlotte and was hanging out uptown making plans to see a concert and go to a house party later on.

Are you a student or do you work? “I was working. I worked construction. But I haven’t got paid so I stopped working… I don’t really like to work for free.”

“I’m getting back in school. I’m supposed to be going back to NC State.”

What are you studying? “Physics. I just like it.”

I told him how hard my Physics class was in college. “Well, they try to make it that why because they’re trying to dissuade people. I think that’s a bad idea. I think they should teach it properly.”

I told him that I admired Richard Feynman. “I think if anyone takes a course in Physics, they should read his books. He explains it intuitively. I think he had a saying that ‘if you can’t explain it to your grandmother, you don’t know it well enough.’”

We talked for a while about David Deutsch and Lawrence Krauss…

What do you do for fun? “I love music… music and playing on my guitar.”

Yeah, me too… “I figured you might be a musician.”

What advice would you give to your younger self? “Don’t do as many drugs. {laughs} I mean, I probably still would, just knowing me. I don’t know, just… live in the moment.”

Is that something you’re able to do? “Yeah, I can’t get out of it. {laughs} I wish I’d lived in the moment younger. All I did was think. I was stuck in my head too much. And, there’s a whole world out here…”

It was great to meet you Josiah. Thanks for participating in my 100 Strangers Project.

Technical Notes: I didn’t notice how much Josiah was backlit. I was able to bring up his skin tones in Lightroom, but it would have been better to reorient him or use a reflector.

Stranger 23/100 – Olivia

Stranger-23–Olivia.jpgOur next stranger has an understated sense of style that caught my eye. When I asked to take her portrait, I got a strong feeling that she would decline. I’m glad she didn’t.

Meet Olivia.

Olivia has lived in New York for a year and a half and was in Charlotte just for the day to give a presentation.

“I’m a cyber crime analyst. People don’t expect that, but that’s what I do. I look at what are the emerging trends and what should we be focusing on.”

What do you do when you’re not working? “I’m really into documentaries. I love watching documentaries. And I’ve started embroidery lately, so I’ve done a couple embroidery projects. I’ve really been enjoying that.”

What made you start that? “I really wanted to do something crafty but I didn’t think that I could do drawing… I’m not talented like that. So I’m trying to do embroidery because it’s like drawing, but it’s ok when you mess up because it’s stitches.”

What else do you do for fun? “I really enjoy seeing the city… I love New York. I’ve been to like hundreds of bars. I like visiting all of the gimmicky, bullshit New York food places. Oh, like spaghetti doughnuts and stuff… I’m like I need a spaghetti doughnut! I love exploring the city and going to different places.”

What advice would you give to your younger self? “Just relax. I think I’ve always been very driven to the point of not being able to relax at all. It’s a very New York mentality in a way where I just need to be doing something.”

“Also, don’t take yourself too seriously. In high school I never dyed my hair or anything because that’s like so unprofessional, and now I’m like why didn’t I dye my hair pink when I was fifteen?”

It was a pleasure to meet you Olivia. Thank you for being part of my 100 Strangers Project.

Technical Notes: I positioned Olivia in front of a shady, garden area to create a simple, dark background for this natural light portrait.

Stranger 22/100 – Carl

Stranger-22–Carl.jpg“I’m from all over, but recently it was California. I came back for an ex… love will make you do crazy things. It will. I should have never came back, but it’s all good. You live and you learn.”

Meet Carl.

What advice would you give to your younger self? “Be yourself and stay focused. I get sidetracked a lot. I have a lot of things I want to do, and I don’t really focus on one thing. I mean, I take pictures, I skateboard and like I do music and I dance. I kind of don’t put enough focus on the one thing and get good at that one thing. I try to do everything at one time. It’s not good.”

“Right now I’m trying to focus on business… I’m trying to come up in the ranks so I can not have to work. That’s really it right now.”

What would you do when you achieved that? “I would definitely start doing some type of giving back in the sense where I would kind of reach younger people and help them change if they’re going through a certain path that a lot of us get caught up in out here. It might help if they had somebody to talk to on that level.”

“I’ve definitely been through some crazy stuff. When I was in California, I was homeless… I lived on skid row for a little while. I didn’t know anybody in California. I was sleeping in a substation behind bushes. I got a dog… I don’t know why homeless people get dogs. I traded my phone for a dog. I would walk him around LA, and I met this guy he had the same kind of dog and we hung out. We hung out for two weeks, and I finally told him I was homeless. He was like ‘Bro, why didn’t you tell me you were homeless? You can stay with me.’ I ended up living right off Hollywood Boulevard. You walk out and the stars are right here.”

“I’ve been through a lot of stages and it’s definitely helped make me who I am. It’s made me very well rounded. So I can pretty much talk to anybody and vibe on different people’s levels.”

It was great talking with you Carl. Thank you for being so generous with your time.

Technical Notes: I took a few shots in the direct sun, but the brim of Carl’s hat cast a harsh shadow on his face. We moved to a shadier area where I captured this more evenly lit image.

Stranger 21/100 – Ming Fouts

100 Strangers - Ming Fouts“I play metal music for Christ…”

Meet Ming Fouts.

Ming Fouts is a drummer who was born in Scotland and has lived in Charlotte since 2009.

Is Ming Fouts your stage name? “It’s just my character. So, imagine me I’m from Scotland with a kilt and some kind of big sombrero. The first track is called ‘Meds of Not’ about the pharmaceutical medicines that are so evil and so sadistic, and it’s poisoning our people.”

“I play metal music for Christ… bone crushing… like Hatebreed meets Slipknot meets Jesus Christ not smoking crack. I’m the Holy Ghost within dude. I’m just a human… half angel, half human.”

“The devil has no power. He is a spirit being that is bound by time and space. He’s running out of time cool dude. That’s the truth. Jesus is love. God is love. And mercy always triumphs over judgment. So I’m just going to sit over here and hope that somebody buys me a hot dog.”

Technical Notes: After only a few shots, I asked for a different pose and he said, “No, that’s good.” The lighting wasn’t very good, so I had to do some extreme editing in Lightroom to get this final image.

Stranger 20/100 – Cash

100 Strangers - CashI was in a bit of a hurry to leave uptown when I spotted this guy. Of course I had to approach him for a portrait.

Meet Cash.

Cash was hanging outside of Prohibition, a local bar, and was there to interview for a barback (bartender’s assistant) position.

What advice would you give to your younger self? “Always believe. Don’t give up. Forget what everybody’s saying around them, just focus on the main goal.”

Speaking of goals… “I’m a music artist as well. I do music, and I engineer music. It’s like goth and trap at the same time. I push it together so it’s like rock music but like trap music at once.”

“It’s crazy. It’s a bunch of folks out here. We just gettin’ it. I got a couple people that I do music with, and they got their own thing. They’re blowing up like crazy. They went to LA.”

“I hit 9k on YouTube off my music video, and I hit like 23k on SoundCloud. It’s crazy.”

“My inspiration is really New York. I’m originally from New Jersey and stuff. I’m always going back and forth now… just connecting and stuff. I’m really trying to get to LA… that’s where I really want to go. There’s a lot of cool people out there.”

“Charlotte is coming up. I like Charlotte… it’s really chill. It’s a cool city to get your mind right.”

It was great to meet you Cash and thank you for being part of 100 Strangers.

Technical Notes: Conditions were perfect right where I found Cash. There was soft, indirect light and a dark doorway behind him that made for an excellent backdrop.

Stranger 19/100 – Allison

Stranger-19–AllisonI was standing beside our next stranger waiting to cross an intersection when she stepped into the street a little too early and came rushing back with a giggle.

Meet Allison aka “Allison from the Bronx”.

What brings you to Charlotte? “Actually, I wanted to come to the strip clubs. {laughs}”

Did you find any good ones? “I did. I found one, but I was too shy to ask the girls to dance with me. So, I’ve got a load of dollar bills on me. I might go there tonight and try again.”

“I came here twice before, but I didn’t have a good time. I think it was partially because I was with my mother and she’s a lot older, she’s elderly, so she doesn’t like to do a lot of stuff. And I keep hearing that Charlotte’s poppin’, so I just wanted to come back by myself. I created an itinerary for myself to do things, and I’m actually having a really good time.”

“Yeah, I do this a lot. I travel alone. I went to Phoenix last month, and I found this cute little blues club called Char’s Has The Blues. It was amazing. I went skydiving. I mean… I did everything. I went to a really cute African restaurant, a Guinean restaurant. I’m the type that… I’ll just book a flight and figure it out later.”

“My next trip is in Ouray, Colorado which is supposed to be the Switzerland of America. It’s a little town in a valley about ten blocks long, and it’s surrounded by the San Juan Mountains. Dope.”

Is there going to be enough action you? “Um… probably not, {laughs} but, I’ll figure it out. They have hot springs… I love hot springs. I’ll figure it all out.”

I have a feeling that you will…

What advice would you give your younger self? “Don’t be so gullible. My mom was really overprotective. She really didn’t brace me for the reality of the world.”

Technical Notes: I had photographed Allison in front of a sculpture and was starting to worry that it wouldn’t look good. I asked if I could take one more shot from a different angle, and that’s the one I picked.

Stranger 18/100 – Michayla

100 Strangers - Michayla
I spotted two young women taking pictures of each other in front of Belk Theater. Since they clearly seemed comfortable in front of a camera, I decided to approach them for the project.

Meet Michayla.

Michayla was in uptown to have lunch with her friend. She’s been in Charlotte for two years and is originally from New Jersey where her family still lives.

Michayla is a dance teacher who teaches children’s ballet.

What do you do when you’re not working? “I’m super into interior design. I just bought a house so I’ve been kind of doing that.”

What advice would you give to your younger self? “Don’t take shit from anyone. Am I allowed to curse? Back in the day I feel like I just wanted to please everyone.”

Have you overcome that or is it a work in progress? “It’s sort of a work in progress. You know I tend to say yes even though I don’t want to.”

What is your biggest challenge? “Just trying to figure out what I want to do and how to do it. I love my career… it’s just kind of a hard career to do. I love my kids. That’s amazing. One of things that is hard about it is, watching them, I wish I could still be dancing.”

What would you do if you had a million dollars? “I would go on vacation with my boyfriend and buy a house in Jersey.”

Thank you Michayla for being one of my 100 Strangers.

Technical Notes: We had nice even, indirect light that day and the light-colored pavers softened the shadows on her face. I didn’t nail the focus on this one. Perhaps I accidentally focused on the brim of her hat.

100 Strangers - Michayla
There’s something about posing for a camera that causes spontaneous laughing fits.