Category Archives: Street Photography

Stranger 67/100 – Remedy

100 Strangers - Remedy“Hope, peace and happiness… that’s what I feel. That’s all the lesson we need right now.”

Meet Remedy.

Remedy, his real name, was born and raised in Charlotte and is a supervisor working at the airport.

What advice would you give to your younger self? “Pursue your dreams and be steadfast in them… that’s what I’d tell myself.”

What brought that to you attention? “Seeing everybody else moving forward in life. I’m trying to do the same thing.”

What is your biggest challenge right now? “Myself, work and myself again. It’s up to you to move forward in life. I’m doing alright. I’m drawing more, dancing more… trying to do more of my passion.”

What do you draw? “I’m an upcoming tattoo artist. Yeah, I’m working on that most importantly. But, I’m trying to put my artwork online and have people look at it more.”

So, how does a tattoo artist get started? Do you have to mess up a bunch of people’s bodies before you get good at it? “Nope. Don’t touch nobody until you’re confident… until you know in your heart that you’re ready.”

Is there a way to practice on non-humans? “You can practice on yourself, pig skin, stuff like that.”

Pig skin… are you serious? Does it act just like human skin? “Just like regular skin, yeah… or fruit, mangos, stuff like that.”

What are your goals? “Have my own tattoo parlor and my own dance studio… things of that nature. Fashion…”

Fashion… tell me about that. “I’m very into fashion. I make my own clothes sometimes.”

How would your friends describe you? “Some say quiet, some say bubbly, outgoing, stuff like that. It varies. {laughs}”

Do you maybe act differently around different people? “Yeah, it’s dependent on the connection between the person… how I open up.”

As we were saying goodbye, Remedy said, “It’s pretty cool coming out and viewing the world and letting people see it from your eyes.”

Thank you Remedy for being part of my 100 Strangers Project.

Technical Notes: We were next to a large building with a bright beam of sunlight shining down on Remedy’s face. I used a reflector to even out his face. The holiday lights on the trees behind him added to the ambience.

Stranger 66/100 – Doug

Stranger-66–Doug.jpgWhat brings you uptown? “Just homelessness…”

Meet Doug.

How long have you been homeless? “This stint… I’ve been about three months out here.”

What advice would you give to your younger self? “Stay in school… I stayed through high school just enough to graduate, and then I had to get away… from my father. My mother had passed, and I got away from daddy. Anyway, I’ve just been on edge since then.”

What is your biggest challenge right now? “My biggest challenge is staying warm. It’s nothing to keep fed in Charlotte if you’re homeless. They have so many soup kitchens, so many ministries that feed the homeless.”

“Finding steady, gainful employment that pays me what I’m worth. I can go to a labor pool and work for $7.50 an hour. I’m not going to do that… been there, done that. I just would like to have a job where I can make enough money to support myself, take care of myself, pay my bills and survive.”

“I’m from the old school, Dan. I was born in ’65…”

I was born in ’68… “Ok, well, we’re in the same generation. I’m an old school… you go knock on doors. ‘Hey Mr. so and so. How are you doing? Can I fill out an application?’ It’s not like that anymore. You know, you’ve got to go online, and I’m very computer illiterate. And I’m dyslexic in a way, so to go online and fill out these applications is just somehow overwhelming for my mind, but that’s something I’m working towards.”

I would think it’s hard to get a job while you’re homeless. “I don’t even have a phone. I fill out an application… phone number… none. Come on, who’s going to hire that?”

What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about the homeless? “I wouldn’t call it a misconception, but just because you’re homeless doesn’t mean you’re mentally deranged. What I don’t like is, Dan, when people perceive you and label you. You know, they see me homeless and they perceive me to be a degenerate, wacko, someone who doesn’t have any ambition to want to better themselves.”

There’s some people who say you shouldn’t give money to the homeless, and there’s other people who say you should. Why is there such a disagreement? “Because of the homeless that are out here, who are not mentally ill, they’re 99.8% alcoholics or drug addicts. Which I’m an alcoholic myself… I drink everyday if I can. You just got to be able to handle your disease as it is and maintain yourself. As far as giving money to the homeless, that’s not the way. Because 99.9% of the time, you’re throwing it away. You might as well set it on fire and throw it in the street. Because most of us are alcoholic and drug addicts, and what money we do get, we’re going to spend on alcohol and drugs.”

What is your passion? “Writing…”

“In Arianna’s Eyes
In Arianna’s eyes, I see light and hope
I see a woman and friend
I see a cold, hard reflection of a man I could never pretend”

{ Doug recited the entire poem, but didn’t want me to print the entire work here because he hadn’t copyrighted it yet. }

“It’s all a matter of perception and how you look at life and how you perceive your situation. A lot of these jokers out here, Dan, they’ve given up. They’ve just thrown in the towel. I’m only 52. I figure I’ve got 20 good years left if the good lord’s willing… But it was good talking to you man.”

Note: As a general rule, I haven’t approached homeless people for this project to avoid exploiting them in any way. In this case, Doug reached out to me suggesting that I should profile the homeless people of Charlotte.

Technical Notes: Doug was sitting in a poorly lit bus shelter. It wasn’t an option to move somewhere with better light because he had so many belongings with him. He was extremely backlit, so I used a strong reflector to completely light up his face.

Stranger 65/100 – Jessie

100 Strangers - JessieWhat brings you uptown? “Painting.”

Meet Jessie.

“Yeah, I used to paint a lot of people. I used to paint a lot of trees and stuff. I really want to be an architect, but they do a lot of computer work, so I don’t like that fact. I would rather take the same aspect of the buildings and put it into my artwork. You can tell just by the lines that it’s architectural.”

What advice would you give to your younger self? “{laughs} Probably to not lose focus of my goals. Because there’s a lot of times where… people would tell me… doing other things are more important than doing your artwork. Art is always important to me, so I always feel like never give up. Which I never lost it… I just sometimes lost focus.”

What is your biggest challenge? “Now my biggest challenge is challenging myself. Finding new things to challenge myself is a challenge because I feel like I’ve conquered a lot of things. I can pretty much draw anything, so it’s like I want something to challenge me always.”

“Right now, this (current painting of the Hearst Tower) is pretty challenging because of the dimensions especially this right here (the front steps) is kicking my ass… just this… just because it’s circular. You have to add the characteristics to make it look like it’s circular but also squared with the background. This right here is challenging.”

What are your goals? Where do you want to be in ten years? “My goal would be not to lose focus and to go somewhere with it in a way. Or at least be able to do what I do comfortably everyday. That would be my goal. Not even being rich or like successful but just knowing that I’m comfortable where I’m at, so that way I can always do my artwork without having to worry about anything.”

What do you worry about now? “Nothing really. I don’t really worry much. That’s why I live my life how I do now. I just come out and paint and just hang out.”

If you could put a billboard up in Charlotte, what would it say? “Spread love. That will be a big sign especially in Charlotte because I don’t like negativity. I feel like if you’re going to do anything, I would spread love, not negativity. Don’t be a hateful person. Be more of a loving person. That way everyone would get the message to love more and hate less.”

Technical Notes: It was an overcast day with very flat light. I used a reflector to draw more light to Jessie’s face.

Stranger 64/100 – Brittany

100 Strangers - BrittanyOur next stranger certainly sticks out from the crowd.

Meet Brittany.

What advice would you give to your younger self? “Be patient. Things aren’t always going to happen when you want them to happen. Things just gotta happen the way they want to.”

So you believe in fate I guess? “Something like that, yeah.”

What are your goals right now? “Right now I have three startup businesses going on. Doing as many things as I possibly can to get my name and myself out there and to market my brand. And, hopefully one day, get married. {laughs}”

What if you didn’t get married… would that be a big deal? “No. It’s as much for my mom as me. {laughs}”

What is your biggest challenge right now? “I’m very shy, believe it or not. Large groups make me very uncomfortable.”

Would you say you’re an introvert then? “Very much so.”

Me too… “Approaching people is not typically my… if it’s larger, I get scared. If it’s a couple people, I can probably get into that. Being a lot more open and being able to communicate with a large mass of people is probably my biggest challenge.”

What would you do if you had a million dollars? “Buy me a new car… a sensible car like a mini cooper is what I want. Buy me a few tiny homes… no set number there. And travel the world. I’d still keep my regular job.”

Do you have a life philosophy? “It changes. Every quarter I have a newfound epiphany. My biggest thing right now is not to worry. I’m a very worrisome person. Sometimes my anxiety gets the best of me.”

If you could put a billboard up in Charlotte, what would it say? “Make someone else smile today.”

“So, get out of your phone. Talk to a person today. Make somebody else smile. Do something for the betterment of someone else.”

Technical Notes: We were on a shady city block. I used a reflector to increase the light on Brittany’s face.

Stranger 63/100 – Victoria

100 Strangers - VictoriaI met our next stranger as she was out with her fiancé, stranger #62 Tyler.

Meet Victoria.

“I am a student, and we just moved up here a few months ago. We were walking around trying to get lunch.”

What advice would you give to your younger self? “Probably be more confident in myself. A lot of times I feel like I bring myself down for no reason.”

Has that always been the case? “Yeah, for a while… and then I moved to Charlotte and got out of a small town. I still struggle with confidence sometimes just being in engineering, the only female… you know?”

I’ve seen statistics where females just drop out at great rates… “Yeah, I feel like they’re not taken as seriously.”

Why do you think females drop out of STEM? “I just feel like there’s a little bit of fear just because it’s not a very woman-populated kind of job like science, math or anything like that. They’re just kind of like, oh, that’s not what I’m supposed to do. It’s just kind of like a mental thing. It’s like, that’s a men’s job.”

How were you able to fight that? “I’m very stubborn and, again, I’ve been working on my confidence. I want to do something that’s impactful. I don’t want to sit in an office and feel like what I’m doing is unimportant. I want to do something big.”

What are your goals? “I definitely want to be a civil engineer. I’m concentrating on energy design right now so… sustainability projects. I actually just had an interview… that’s why I’m dressed like this. So, anything with sustainability really… I’m pretty open to that.”

What is your biggest challenge right now? “Probably focusing on what’s important. I get really distracted easily… I want to go out to lunch, I want to hang out with my friends, but I really need to focus on schoolwork and do nothing else.”

What do you do in your free time? “We go hiking. We take our dogs out and walk around uptown a little bit.”

How would your friends describe you? “Probably as social. A little feisty. But genuinely a good person I would think… I hope so.”

Technical Notes: We found a nicely lit spot with a bright spot of sun reflecting off a faraway building. I used a reflector to further light up her face.

Stranger 62/100 – Tyler

100 Strangers - TylerI ran into our next stranger while he was out getting ready to have lunch with his fiancé.

Meet Tyler.

Tyler is originally from the Northeast and has lived in Charlotte for about two years.

What kind of work do you do? “I work in technology.”

What advice would you give to your younger self? “Don’t rush. Take your time. Think things through. And don’t make decisions for anyone but yourself.”

Is that something you were always able to do? “Yeah, for the most part. It’s sort of a mantra.”

What is your biggest challenge? “Balancing the pursuit of success with happiness. That’s a really complicated one for a lot of people.”

Are they mutually exclusive? “Not necessarily. I think they’re very much related, and that’s where the balancing act comes into play.”

How would your friends describe you? “That depends which friend you ask… {laughs} but, mostly pretty outgoing, pretty easy going, definitely an oddball. Considerate and there when needed.”

If you could put a billboard up in Charlotte, what would it say? “Respect yourself.”

And you don’t think people do that enough? “Not necessarily. Not in my experience.”

What would you do if you had a million dollars? “You’re assuming I don’t have a million dollars. {laughs}”

I am making an assumption, yes. It’s usually a pretty accurate one… {laughs} “If I had a million dollars, I would probably play with it, invest, maybe go on a vacation. Standard stuff, nothing drastic.”

Technical Notes: It was a sunny day, so we found a shaded area out of the direct sun. Tyler was lit from his left side by a bright reflection bouncing off a distant building. I used a reflector on his right side to even out the light.

Stranger 61/100 – Grazia

100 Strangers - Grazia“I walk all the time. I work. I write. I do many things, and I’m 80.”

Meet Grazia.

What advice would you give to your younger self? “The mind… take care of your mind. The mind is the most important.”

I detect an accent… “”I’m originally from Italy, but I left 55 years ago. I’ve lived all around the world in US American bases…”

Grazia suddenly started screaming as she saw a friend of hers walk by. Her friend explained that he also met Grazia around a camera. He said that she was trying unsuccessfully to take a picture, so he took the picture on his camera, emailed it to her and they’ve been friends ever since.

What made you leave Italy? “I got a Fulbright Fellowship (Biology).”

How would your friends describe you? “Crazy.”

What are your goals? “To have a happy life because happiness is so important. And I do have a purpose, and my purpose is uplifting people, and so on my web site I have a lot of uplifting stories because there’s quite a bit of negativity.”

Technical Notes: We were in dark shade, so we moved to a brighter area which turned out to be pretty harsh. However, I think the warm, colorful look matched Grazia’s personality nicely.