Stranger 16/100 – Sharon

Stranger-16–SharonOur next stranger is a fellow photographer that I met while wondering through uptown Charlotte on a Saturday afternoon.

Meet Sharon.

Sharon lives in Charlotte and was out doing some candid street photography. She recently graduated from college and is taking a year off before pursuing her next plan.

What advice would you give your younger self? “Don’t focus so much on the journey that you forget to live for the moment.”

What are your goals? “I’m interested in medicine so I trying to find the next step to get into med school. Short-term goal is to get into med school and then long-term is saving lives both spiritually and physically.”

“Because I feel like so many people are internally broken. Spiritually they are just so hurt. It’s like you can help someone physically, but if you’re not targeting what’s going on spiritually with obesity, heart disease, diabetes and mental health issues… You can use medicine all you want to externally, but internally there’s something that’s impinging on that and not allowing them to completely be healed.”

“A lot of things that happen with cardiology specifically and obesity… you help the person lose ten pounds and then they go right back to gaining another twenty pounds because there’s something going on internally within them.”

We then talked about how healthcare system is guilty of treating symptoms rather than curing patients. “And that’s my goal to change that. It’s horrible that’s all it does is just helps the symptoms and just puts a band aid on someone and then they go back home and do the exact same thing.”

“It’s a whole cycle. It’s a never-ending cycle in the sense that the people in power don’t want to break that cycle. They love it because it’s giving them revenue. And it’s hard for doctors because it’s like we want to be doctors but we can’t go against this policy or else we won’t be able to practice.”

“My long term goal is getting into the World Health Organization to medically and globally impact health.”

It was a pleasure to meet you Sharon. Thank you for brightening my day.

Technical Notes: We were in an open plaza with light grey pavers. The sun was blocked but was reflecting off a nearby building. I normally don’t pose subjects looking straight on, but I chose this shot because it evoked so much power and confidence.

During our photo shoot, I told Sharon in a silly voice “If you want to smile, that would be amaaaazing…” She produced the most exaggerated smile and then proceeded to crack up. As much as I love posed portraits, there’s something special about those natural moments that happen spontaneously.Stranger-16–Sharon ALTERNATE

Stranger 15/100 – Naj

100 Strangers - NajOur next stranger is easily the most stylish man I’ve photographed for this project so far. I saw him walking by just as I was finishing lunch, so I leapt up quickly to approach him for a portrait. Luckily, he said “yes”.

Sensing he was in a hurry to get back to work, I walked with him while we talked.

Meet Naj.

Naj is from New York and was visiting Charlotte for business. You would be forgiven for thinking that Naj is a fashion model, but in fact he’s in the software business. More specifically, he works in the area of Financial Analytics.

His advice to his younger self is “Keep going. Don’t give up.”

Thank you so much Naj for participating in the 100 Strangers Project. I hope our paths cross again one day.

Technical Notes: It was a clear, sunny day, and we were in a shaded area.


An alternate picture of Naj.  I always have people remove their sunglasses before I take their portrait. However, Naj just looked so cool that I had to take a few shots with the shades on.Stranger-15–Naj ALTERNATE

Stranger 14/100 – Joy

Stranger-14–JoySome strangers grab your attention from a mile away…

Meet Joy.

Joy has lived in Charlotte for ten years and works on a creative team for a local bank. She’s also single mother with two young kids. Since she had to get back to work soon, I walked with her while we talked.

What advice would you give to your younger self? “Don’t marry the people that you married. {laughs} I’m on the cusp of my second divorce, so that would be just don’t ever do that.” I asked if her advice was to just never get married and she replied, “Just don’t.” She also added that she would tell herself “and that everything will be ok. {laughs}”

What is your biggest challenge? “Single moming is hard. Getting through the divorce stuff is hard. The ex is a little uncooperative. But other than that, life is pretty sweet.”

I thanked her for time and she said, “Good luck with your project!”

Our encounter only lasted about two minutes, but in that short time I got a strong impression of Joy as being grounded, confident, strong and comfortable in her own skin. She seems to have such a positive outlook on life despite experiencing her share of difficulties.

Technical Notes: We ducked under a covered building entrance right next to the street. Given the direction of the light, I had to stand in the street to get the right angle. It was worth it.


CatwomanAs seen on the Saturday before Halloween 2017 in uptown Charlotte…

Stranger 13/100 – Trip

100 Strangers - TripI ran into this distinguished gentleman at the same time I met Josef (stranger #11) at the Scaleybark train stop. He’s probably the most well known stranger I’ve met so far in this project.

Meet Trip.

Trip is a local TV personality that does early morning traffic reports for WCCB Charlotte. He was heading downtown to meet with the master of his masonic lodge.

Even though he’s a self-described night person, Trip arrives to work at 3am everyday. He does his on air traffic reports every ten minutes starting at 5am and is done by 9am. He says it’s a lot of fun working in the studio and you meet a lot of interesting people there including celebrities.

Before he worked reporting the traffic on TV, Trip actually flew the plane that monitored traffic. He did that for four years before transitioning to the studio. Very impressive.

Trip really hammed it up for the camera making our brief photo shoot a lot of fun. It was great to meet you Trip and thanks for participating in the 100 Strangers Project.

Technical Notes: It was an overcast day under a glass train station shelter so the light was very soft.

Stranger 12/100 – Aquilla

Stranger-12–AquillaI asked this stranger if I could take her portrait for a project I was working on. She asked, “is it a project documenting short people?”

Meet Aquilla.

After introducing myself, she told me her name and then observed, “Now we’re not strangers anymore…” I had only just met Aquilla and I already liked her.

Aquilla said that her parking was about to run out, so I tried to make the most of the little bit of time we had.

She works in uptown Charlotte at Wells Fargo.

Her advice to younger self is “Connect more with mentors.” I asked her if she has been able to do this and she said “No. I’m very introverted.” I told her that I was an introvert too and that’s partly why I was doing this project.

I then asked her what her biggest challenge is, and she said, “Getting out there… getting out of my comfort zone and connecting with people. I’m constantly in my head.”

I didn’t want her to get a parking ticket, so I thanked her for her time and for participating in my 100 Strangers Project.

Technical Notes: It was a bright day, but we were in the shade of her building. I positioned her facing the street where the light was coming from. Since window behind her was so close, I used a wide aperture to blur it out.

Stranger 11/100 – Josef

100 Strangers - JosefWhen I arrived at the Scaleybark train stop, I noticed a young man practicing skateboard tricks. He agreed to participate in my 100 Strangers project just as the PA system announced that the train would arrive in one minute. I quickly shot several pictures on the platform and we walked into the train together.

Meet Josef.

Josef has lived in Charlotte for two years now and is originally from New York. He was on his way to work at a nearby grocery store.

I asked him what he does when he’s not working. His face lit up and he said “Ah! Skateboarding bro! Like, skateboarding is my life.” Josef’s favorite skateboarder is Lizard King (whose logo appears underneath his skateboard deck), and he wants to be sponsored by Deathwish someday. He’s currently working on performing a kickflip.

When asked if it’s hard to get sponsored, he said “Yes it is, but if you can go down 16 staircases, that will get you sponsored real quick.” I didn’t get clarification on exactly what that entails, but it sounds very difficult (not to mention dangerous).

He says that Charlotte is pretty cool about skateboarders although he did get stopped while skateboarding at the Charlotte Transit Center once.

Josef got off on the next stop, so that ended our conversation. Great to meet you Josef and good luck nailing that kickflip!

Technical Notes: I didn’t feel confident about the outside shots, so I asked him for a few more inside the train before the doors opened. He produced a relaxed, serious pose, and I took several more shots. This is the last frame I shot. No flash or reflector used.