Approaching complete strangers on the street can be difficult work. That’s why it was so refreshing when our next stranger approached me.
Max was riding his mountain bike through the busy streets of Charlotte. When he saw me with my camera, he gave me the universal ‘take a picture’ sign and pointed to himself. Of course I said yes.
Max seemed rather stoic at first, so I started talking him up by saying, “You don’t have to smile. You can smile if you want to… it’s not required.” Max let out a small chuckle and then burst into a big smile. That’s the moment I captured in this shot.
What brings you uptown? “Bike riding as you can see. Just getting my adrenalin rush going through the traffic in and out of cars… closest to a car as I can get. Got to live on the edge.”
Are you a student or do you work? “I’m at CP (local community college) right now getting my associates in fine art in music. Throughout high school, I was in the marching band. Right now… I’m trying to major in music education and music technology. So, I’m trying to be a band director, but make music also.”
What advice would you give to your younger self? “Stay positive… definitely stay positive. And don’t fall into what society wants you to be. Be your own image.”
Amen. And is that something you’ve had trouble doing? “Yeah, because growing up, I have a physical disability, growing up was like ‘Oh, you can’t do this, you can’t do that. You’ll never be this, you’ll never be that.’ So, trying to stand out, growing up, was a big thing for me. Because I already stood out, but trying to stand out from what people thought of me.”
Did that make you want to fit in even more? “At first it did, but then I realized trying to fit in isn’t going to get it… stand out. You got to really focus on what you want to do in life and where you want to go, not where your friends are going or where you think you want to be. Where do you want to go? And then maybe from there, you can figure out how you want your life to be.”
Is there anything you want to say to the people who read this? “Stay positive, keep an open mind and do what you love doing.”
Words to live by… Thank you so much Max for telling us what life is all about.
Technical Notes: This natural light photo was taken on a sunny day in an open plaza.