Monthly Archives: April 2018

Stranger 79/100 – Crystal

100 Strangers - CrystalStranger 79/100 – Crystal

“Please talk to me like I’m someone you love.”

Meet Crystal.

What advice would you give to your younger self? “Listen to your elders. {laughs}”

That sounds wise. Is that something you didn’t do when you were younger? “Yeah, I’ve done a lot of kicking myself through the years.”

What advice were they telling you that you didn’t listen to? “Be careful who you hang around with… your friends and stuff. Birds of a feather flock together.”

I always heard that you’re the average of the five people you hang around with the most. “Definitely… that too. I have a very small circle of people that I trust.”

What are your biggest challenges right now? “Being open. It’s hard for me to open up sometimes. I’m a little more reserved… introvert.”

I am too. Does that keep you from doing things you want to do? “Yeah, it’s like, I don’t know, just the fear of rejection. I guess that’s a really silly thing, but I’ve overcome a lot of it over the years. It’s inevitable.”

Where do you want to be in ten years? “I’m a cosmetologist… that was one of my goals. I want to be financially stable, not have to work… as hard anyways. I love helping people… anything that involves helping others, I’m very passionate about. You have to give back… I feel like I want to give back to people.”

How would your friends describe you? “That I’m very easy going, very loving and just maybe not as approachable. I would say I’m very friendly. I’m very open to suggestions. Give me my space, I’ll give you yours. I’m very open to hearing other people’s opinions and ideas.”

If you could put a billboard up in Charlotte, what would it say? “Please talk to me like I’m someone you love.”

Technical Notes: I chose this photo, the first one we took, because of Crystal’s simple, elegant expression. It was incredibly windy that day, and Crystal’s hair was flying in every direction for most of the shots. I used a reflector to lighten up the right side of her face.

Stranger 78/100 – Kia

100 Strangers - KiaStranger 78/100 – Kia

“Be yourself and have faith.”

Meet Kia.

What advice would you give to your younger self? “Don’t fall for everybody’s opinions.”

What is your biggest challenge right now? “Trying to be more social.”

Would you say that you’re an introvert? “Yeah.”

Me too. {laughs}

Where do you want to be in ten years? “Doing my own thing. Probably owning a business.”

A big one or just a small business? “We can go big. Bigger is better. {laughs}”

How would your friends describe you? “Crazy. {laughs}”

If you could put up a billboard in Charlotte, what would it say? “Be yourself and have faith.”

Technical Notes: I positioned Kia just out of the direct sunlight. It was so windy that I couldn’t hold the reflector, so Kia’s friend held it for me. Just on a whim, I decided to try a lower camera angle, and it turned out to be my favorite shot.

Stranger 77/100 – Cue

Stranger-77–Cue.jpgStranger 77/100 – Cue

“Don’t wait. A lot of people are waiting around for something to happen.”

Meet Cue.

What advice would you give to your younger self? “Actually pay attention in school, don’t be a class clown and follow your goals. Don’t let anybody tell you to wait to do anything. Just do it as soon as you think about it.”

What is your biggest challenge right now? “I know what I want to do but just finding out how to start and like where to start and finding a good audience for it. I DJ. I make EDM and house music. It’s just finding a good crowd, man, and figuring out what to do and who likes it and doesn’t like it.”

I know the music is important, but a lot of it is self-promotion too right? “Yeah, self-promotion and finding your niche and finding out what the people like. That’s pretty much it. And you have to be able to take negative feedback.”

Are you ok with that? Can you handle it? “Yeah, I like feedback because it helps a lot. Some people don’t like it. If you tell me what you don’t like, I’ll figure it out and I’ll make something better and you’ll like it after that.”

Where do you want to be in ten years? “I want to be a DJ at festivals. Yeah, big festivals like Ultra, Tomorrowland, stuff like that. Like in Germany, Miami…”

If you could put a billboard up in Charlotte, what would it say? “Don’t wait. A lot of people are waiting around for something to happen.”

Technical Notes: I used a reflector to even out the light on Cue’s face.

Stranger 76/100 – Melysa

100 Strangers - MelysaStranger 76/100 – Melysa

I ran into our next stranger while she was out riding a bike and enjoying the warm weather.

Meet Melysa.

What advice would you give to your younger self? “Take your time to think. Take your time… it’s ok. Slow down a little bit. You just gotta let things go. Take your time and everything’s going to work out.”

What is your biggest challenge right now? “I don’t know exactly what I want to do with my life. I have two options, and I’m trying to figure which will be the best for me right now.”

“I was assigned here college then I had to stop doing it since my dad left my mom. He was the one putting the income in the house. So now my option is go back to my country, that’s Spain, and just go to college. It will be easier for me than trying to make it by myself here.”

What are your goals? Where do you want to be in ten years? “Graduate, have my own career, probably my own business.”

Technical Notes: I used a reflector to light up the right side of Melysa’s face which was in shadow. She helped me by holding one side of the reflector with her right hand since it was very windy.

Stranger 75/100 – Julien

100 Strangers - JulienStranger 75/100 – Julien

“Love one another and maintain.”

Meet Julien.

What are you doing uptown? “Just chilling before I go to work. I went to go like meditate for a second. I closed my eyes and enjoyed the sounds of nature.”

So do you meditate everyday? “I used to. I might get back to the swing of things.”

Meditation is one of those things that everybody aspires to do, but most people don’t. “Yeah. {laughs}. Most people don’t.”

What advice would you give to your younger self? “Stick to yourself.”

What is your biggest challenge right now? “Just getting back on the good foot. To get equilibrium.”

What are your goals? Where do you want to be in 10 years? “Maybe I’ll have sold a bunch of music. Have a good life. At least maybe I have my own house to share with my son.”

What kind of music do you make? “I do rap, rock and R&B. I even like some electro-funk kind of thing. I just work by myself. I write music… I’ve wrote like 320 records. Yeah, I wrote a lot of songs.”

“I’m not necessarily going for like a gimmick in music. I don’t want to be limited to doing one thing. I want to do all things. I want to be into like rock. I want to do R&B. I want to be in soul music. I want to be able to do rap music. I want to do different genres within rap music. I don’t want to only do one kind of thing. That’s boring and bland.”

If you could put a billboard up in Charlotte, what would it say? “Love one another and maintain.”

Technical Notes: We were under an overhang near the side entrance of a bank. Julien was lit from his left side and I used a reflector to even out the light on his face.

Stranger 74/100 – Tom

100 Strangers - TomStranger 74/100 – Tom

“Don’t make mistakes like I did…”

Meet Tom.

What advice would you give to your younger self? “Don’t be so stupid.”

Would your younger self know what that meant? “No. {laughs}. Don’t make mistakes like I did… and I did.”

What’s your biggest challenge right now? “Right now? Survival.”

Are you homeless? “Yeah”

For how long? “Oh, I don’t know… a couple years.”

Are there misconceptions of the homeless? “They probably think they’re criminals. I don’t think so. People get into those circumstances like me, not by choice, but happenstance. It just happens. You make mistakes and you make bad choices, then you’re there.”

“My biggest problem is staying out of trouble. I mean people attacking. Oh, I’ve had it happen. I’ve done had my ass beat so bad that somebody called an ambulance for me. They did an MRI on my face, and I wasn’t doing anything. I don’t piss people off. I mean… why? I’m a good guy. I’m easy to get along with. I don’t mess with anybody, and he beat the living shit out of me, and I don’t know why. I still don’t know why. It bothers me. I have nightmares over it.”

Can you tell me about your time in the service? “I was an aviation supply mechanic. I found parts for aircraft… jets, helicopters. I joined in ’75 and I got out in ’81.”

So you missed Vietnam then… “Just… just missed it by nine days.”

What happened after you left the military? “Charlotte firefighter… 15 years. I always wanted to. I wanted to go be a firefighter in the Marines.”

Note: As a general rule, I haven’t approached homeless people for this project to avoid exploiting them in any way. In this case, Tom approached me to ask about my project.

Technical Notes: It was a sunny day, so we moved to a shadier area. I used a reflector to light up Tom’s face. I decided to convert to black & white to make the image more cohesive and to minimize the distracting colors of his hat.

Stranger 73/100 – Joél

Stranger-73–Joel.jpgStranger 73/100 – Joél

“Love more. That’s a universal message that I think people just need to hear and to practice.”

Meet Joél.

What advice would you give to your younger self? “To find your passion and go after it and don’t be scared to take a risk. Take the risks, make the jump, make the connections, meet new people. Do the things that you’re afraid to do.”

What are your biggest challenges right now? “My biggest challenge right now is balancing this corporate career that I’ve built over the last ten, twelve years, maintaining it as well as balancing my creativity, being and artist and not suppressing that art and not suppressing my passion. Being able to fulfill both at the same time. It’s not easy.”

I asked Joél about the conundrum of working a full time job and doing art on the side vs. pursuing art full time. “I like to be able to do what I want when I need to do it. As a citizen in this society, everything costs. To be an artist costs… if it doesn’t cost you, it’s going to cost someone else. So, I figure why not me absorb the cost and I can do things at my own pace. I can do things on my own time. I can do things at will if I have my own resources and if I have my own assets. And I won’t need sponsorships and I won’t need to wait for the go.”

And you won’t need to sell out or compromise your art… “Exactly. It’s a balance that I’ve come to be comfortable with. I’m totally fine with not being a starving artist. I’m totally fine being the working artist who has an office job and I have my fashion line.”

Where do you want to be in ten years? “In then years I see myself successfully running my fashion line… maybe not at a global scale, but like just successfully running it. Producing stuff that people want, producing stuff that I want and just making my impact in a small way. And even if I’m still working corporate, it’s a win-win situation for me.”

If you could put a billboard up in Charlotte, what would it way? “I would tell people to just love more. Love more. Simply that. Love more. That’s a universal message that I think people just need to hear and to practice.”

Technical Notes: It was a bright day, so we moved to a shadier area to avoid any harsh lighting. I used a reflector to brighten up Joél‘s face.