Tag Archives: strangers

Stranger 72/100 – Bill

100 Strangers - BillStranger 72/100 – Bill

“Don’t be so serious.”

Meet Bill.

What brings you uptown? “Well, I live over here. I’ve got a little studio right down the street.”

What advice would you give to your younger self? “Do everything different.”

What is your biggest challenge right now? “Being an artist in the United States. The United States is not a big art environment. If you go out of the United States, if you’re an artist, you’re much more accepted I think.”

What kind of art do you make? “I’m pretty diverse. I do some illustration… I’m mostly a painter. I’m an oil painter, but I do a lot of mixed media… charcoal and watercolor.”

Where do you want to be in 5 or 10 years? “Maybe I’ll be out of the United States. {laughs}. I like to travel, so I’ll go around and see places that have a lot more art and art is a lot more appreciated.”

If you could put a billboard up in Charlotte, what would it say? “I would never put a billboard up in Charlotte. I don’t know… probably don’t be so serious.”

Technical Notes: I used a small LED panel to minimize the shadows on Bill’s face.

Stranger 54/100 – Annette

Stranger-54–Annette.jpgOur next stranger was very positive, relaxed and comfortable in her own skin. She readily agreed to have her portrait taken.

Meet Annette.

What brings you uptown? “I work here. I’m an architect.”

What advice would you give to your younger self? “It will all work out. Like, stress out less. It’s going to be fine, kid.”

Did you stress out a lot when you were younger? “Oh yeah. Well, because it’s one of those things where you’re trying to make all the big life decisions like going into college, going into high school… Oh my gosh, I have to figure out the next step of my whole life! Just go with it… it will be fine. {laughs}”

And do you think you have less stress now or do you just better cope with it? “Better coping. {laughs}”

What is your biggest challenge right now? “Still the same stuff… like am I doing what I’m supposed to be doing or should I be doing something else? As much as I love where I am and what I’m doing, sometimes you can get complacent especially in a creative field. I like mixing things up and keeping things interesting.”

What are your goals? “I’d really like to have my own company and run my own firm.”

How would you do it different than your current place? “I’m a lot more invested in technology than my current firm. I also like experimental science and research which is not typically aspects that you integrate directly into architecture. I don’t know why…”

Are there a lot of overly traditional mindsets in architecture? “Yeah, you get one or the other. So, you get people who are almost purely sculptors and it’s really tricky to justify their designs. It’s like they’re beautiful, but they’re not actually helpful and there are buildings where they’re very helpful, but they’re just ugly, and they’re not uplifting, and they’re not inspirational, and they’re not any of those other things that good architecture should be.”

Do most architects usually have one or the other of those traits? Is it a rare breed to find someone who does both? “Yeah, it’s rare to find both.”

A practical artist… “Yeah, it’s like finding really good furniture design. It’s also very tricky.”

Functional, but yet beautiful… “Yeah.”

How would your friends describe you? ”I’m usually the weird one. {laughs} Very stable, but I’m very odd. {laughs}”

Technical Notes: We were in a shaded area, and I was a little concerned about not having enough light. I used a reflector, which Annette helped me hold, to increase the light levels.

Stranger 3/100 – Will

Stranger-3-Will
I took a short trip up to Durham, NC to see and photograph the band Touché Amoré. After the second opening band finished, I headed outside the venue to take a break. As I glanced over the crowd milling around outside the Motorco Music Hall, this gentleman caught my eye.

Meet Will.

Will is from the neighboring city of Raleigh and works at North Carolina State doing IT work. He’s also the bassist for a hardcore band called Oxidant.

When asked about a cause he believes in he said “I think veganism is important, but I don’t feel like I’d push that on everyone. Not everyone can be vegan necessarily because everyone has different dietary needs.”

When asked what advice he’d give to his younger self, he said “I think I’m a strange person because I don’t think I’ve changed that much. I wish I could tell myself to be less awkward or kind of be more outgoing… I don’t really know.”

Approaching complete strangers can be challenging but Will made it so easy with his relaxed and confident personality. Thanks so much Will for being part of my 100 Strangers project, and it was a pleasure to meet you.

Technical Notes: This picture was taken at night, so I positioned Will under the neon sign of the venue. There was also a very bright streetlight lighting him from his left side. The out of focus lights behind him created an interesting background element.

Stranger 2/100 – Al

Stranger-2-Al
Shortly after photographing Justin (stranger #1), I crossed Tryon Street and headed towards the main library. There were two women taking pictures of each other in front of the Charlotte Buddy Bear — a 7-foot tall artistic bear statue given to Charlotte by several German organizations. I offered to take a picture of both of them using their cell phone, and they were happy for me to do so. As I turned to leave, I saw this guy smiling at us as he walked by.

Meet Al.

Al seemed friendly and approachable, so I quickly walked up next to him, said “hi” and asked him how his day was going. He just came from the library and had been been filling out employment forms. I asked him what kind of work he’s looking for and he said “anything”. He had previously done work shooting video for different groups.
Al is from a smaller city southeast of Charlotte and has family all over the Charlotte area. When I told him about the 100 Strangers Project, he smiled and said “…and I’m one of them.”.

We walked a little further down the street together after taking the photo. I wasn’t able to learn much more about Al as our conversation was interrupted twice with music blasting out of a nearby car and again with a loud argument on the sidewalk.

I wished him luck with the job search and he wished me luck with the 100 Strangers project.

Technical Notes: I only took three photos over a timespan of less than 15 seconds. All shots were natural light with no reflector or flash. I directed him to hold a serious pose for the first two which looked great. Then I told him he could smile if he wanted to. He turned his head away and came back showing some teeth. This is the picture I chose because I felt it showed more of his personality.

Stranger 1/100 – Justin aka Manok $ Roe

Stranger-1-Justin
1/100 – Justin aka Manok $ Roe

Welcome to my first 100 Strangers portrait!  Since I discovered the 100 Strangers project in early September 2017, I knew it was something I had to do.  Basically, the goal is to approach strangers on the street, take their portrait and learn a little about them.  Of course there are many technical challenges of shooting different people in changing environments, but the biggest challenge is stepping out of your comfort zone and approaching complete strangers.

I live in Charlotte, NC (USA) which has a population of about 800,000. While walking around the city center, I locked eyes with this stylish individual sitting on a bench.

Meet Justin.

Justin is a rapper who is also known as Manok $ Roe. He described his style as a cross between Prodigy (Mobb Deep) and Jadakiss. As he was talking, a guy told him that he sounded like Frank Sinatra (which he took as a big complement).

He told me that his average day is “trying to survive and provide for my family”. He has a little girl and a son on the way.

When asked if he was getting any traction on YouTube, he said “I’m not speaking what they want to hear. They want to hear lies, and I’m telling the truth”.

Best of luck in the future Justin. I hope our paths cross again.

Technical Notes: I realized after the fact that I should have used a reflector (which I had with me) to light the right side of his face and shirt. I took a couple shots of him up against a building but they looked a bit flat, so I repositioned him on the curb which created a more dynamic background. I captured several frames with different hand gestures, but I found this simple, relaxed pose to be the most compelling.