Category Archives: Photography

Aleah (Stranger #5)

Aleah Painting
Aleah (Stranger #5)
Acrylic on Canvas

100 Strangers Project – How I approach strangers and take their portraits

Will (Stranger #3)

WillPainting.jpgWill (Stranger #3)
Acrylic on Canvas

Lindsey (Stranger #90)

Lindsey Stranger painting

Lindsey (Stranger #90)
Acrylic on Canvas

Sasha (Stranger #83)

SashaPaintingFINALSasha (Stranger #83)
Acrylic on Canvas

I used the Zorn limited palette for this one — basically just two colors — Yellow Ochre and Cadmium Red (along with Mars Black and Titanium White).  If you’re wondering how the green was produced, the Mars Black has a blue bias, so when it’s mixed with Yellow Ochre, you get a limited range of greens.

Tyler (Stranger #62)

I used a small palette knife for most of this painting and am very happy with the result.  I feel like I’m inching ever closer to the style I want to achieve.  This painting required a looseness of mind that doesn’t come natural to me.  I still have the urge to “paint within the lines” and make everything look as realistic as possible.

TylerPaintingLowRes.jpgTyler (Stranger #62)
Acrylic on Canvas

Ben (Stranger #69)

My 100 Strangers project actually began as a way for me to find original subjects to paint portraits of.  However, I got so consumed with the project that I ended up not painting for a year.  Now that it’s finished, I have at least 100 potential portraits to paint.  This is my second stranger painting.
Ben (Stranger #69)
Acrylic on Canvas

100 Strangers – Set 1

100-Strangers-Matrix.jpgHere they are… my 100 Strangers family in one image. It’s been an amazing journey.

Most all of my previous creative pursuits have involved me working alone in a room… usually in front of a computer. Learning to paint was a breath of fresh air, but still I was spending my time alone (just in a different room). After experimenting with painting many different subjects, I found myself drawn to painting portraits of people.

During this time I was puzzled as to why I was so attracted to playing Pokémon Go. Then I realized… it wasn’t actually the game itself but just getting outside and having an adventure. When I learned about the 100 Strangers Project, it immediately clicked in my mind that this was the adventure I needed to pursue instead.

It’s hard to put into words what this project has meant to me. It’s certainly made me a better photographer, but it was the human interaction that made it all worthwhile. I’m an introvert, so the prospect of approaching complete strangers on the street was a bit daunting. To my surprise, I discovered that it’s something I’m pretty good at.

I assumed that the vast majority of the strangers I approached would say no and that I’d have to push through tons of rejection to find a willing participant. To my surprise, I found the exact opposite. Of course there were people who declined (maybe less than 20), but they were almost always friendly.

One of the biggest benefits of this project is that it forces you to focus your attention on other people as opposed to yourself and your ego (which might be the source of much of our unhappiness). You cannot help but be challenged and be humbled by all of the people you meet. Some are well off, some are getting by and some are struggling in ways that I can’t even imagine. Generally speaking, we all want the same thing.

Looking at this image of 100 strangers makes me smile. I remember their names, where I met them, their personalities, their challenges and their dreams. Some have become friends. Some I keep up with on social media. For the vast majority, I have no contact with them at all. I hope they are all able to see their portraits (or will discover them sometime in the future), and I hope it makes them smile too.

Stranger 100/100 – Imani

100 Strangers - ImaniStranger 100/100 – Imani

“Give back to the community… go out and help other people.”

Meet Imani.

What advice would you give to your younger self? “Don’t drink so much… stay away from that. Really just focus more instead of going out so often, partying, and just be a little more determined. I’m a pretty determined person, hard worker, but just being consistent and not becoming complacent and stagnant… I would definitely give myself that advice.”

What are you focusing on now? “On my career. Honestly, my freshman year of school… I just came back…”

From where? “ECU… it was a party school. I removed myself from the party life, the situation, and I came back home. I started working for a consulting firm, and it’s been up from there.”

Tell me about your career… “So, I’m in school for criminal justice minoring in business marketing. I’m actually married, and my husband and I we’re opening up an enterprise together with four different companies umbrellaed underneath. I’m also getting into trading stocks. I’m doing a day-trading academy right now.”

It’s an interesting time to be trading since the markets have been up for so long… “It is, but it’s a perfect time to strengthen my strategies and the different markets that I’m trading in. Maybe in the futures market it’s not that great of a time to trade, but, if you’re doing day-trading, it’s different.”

What is your biggest challenge right now? “My biggest challenge would definitely be the separation between my husband and I. So, it’s been a difficult time.”

What is the biggest misconception people have about you? “A lot of people don’t like to talk to me because they think that I’m stuck up at first… or that I’m just a partier. I have that connotation because I worked at clubs and bars for so long, but that’s definitely not me at all.”

If you could put a billboard up in Charlotte, what would it say? “It’s just a very selfish society that we live in nowadays, and I would definitely say to give back to the community and to go out and help other people.”

Technical Notes: We were in the shade of a building, and I used a small reflector to even the light on Imani’s face.

Stranger 99/100 – Kevin

Stranger-99-Kevin.jpgStranger 99/100 – Kevin

“I want to make a name for myself. I want people to know me.”

Meet Kevin.

What advice would you give to your younger self? “Take school extremely seriously. High school, middle school… all of it.”

What is your biggest challenge right now? “Maintaining… keeping a steady pace.”

What’s keeping you from doing that? “Myself… not being disciplined.”

What are your goals? Where do you want to be in ten years? “In ten years… I want to make a name for myself. I want people to know me. I want to make an impact… at least for my family.”

What’s the plan? “I do a little music right now… hip-hop, rap.”

What’s the biggest misconception people have about you? “I don’t know… people just ask me if I’m ok… like I have a mean face all the time. I don’t really talk to a whole lot of people. I just keep to myself.“

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

Are you active in the music scene yet? “I’m just writing. I haven’t stepped into the studio just yet, but I’ve been writing a lot of stuff.”

What advice would you give to people starting out in music? “Never give up honestly. Nowadays you can really go viral… you just gotta keep going. Even when you feel like you’re not going so good… you’re not gaining fans… even if it takes years, just keep going. Even people who are big now, it took them years. You just gotta keep pursuing it and getting better and better and finding that new thing that people like.”

Technical Notes: It was a cloudy day, and I used a reflector below Kevin’s face to even out the light. Despite the processed look, I barely edited this portrait at all in Lightroom. This was the rare case where the subject, lighting and background all came together at the same time.