Monday, March 14, 2011

100 Strangers

The concept is fairly simple - take 100 portraits of people who A) are a complete stranger and B) have been told about the project and given consent. That's it, those are the only rules. Seems easy, right? I agree the concept is not complicated, the difficulty comes in approaching people you've never met and asking permission to not only take a picture, but to take a portrait. Few people are comfortable talking to strangers and even fewer are okay with doing something as intimate as taking a portrait. I belong to that group (unless I've been drinking) and as such, this challenge is not only going to stretch me as a photographer, but also as a person.

I consider the formal start date March 1st and set a personal goal of finishing by December 31st. This gives me 10 months to get 100 pictures, an average of 2-3 per week. This wouldn't be that hard if I went with the law of averages and just asked every random person I met. The problem is I'm not only dealing with my own self-consciousness, I'm also dealing with finding my method. I want everyone I approach to be for a specific reason and you have to do so in a manner in which isn't off-putting or creepy. To take a true portrait, you have to make people feel comfortable and as such, you have to spend a decent amount of time observing to find those who seem open to it. Really it's about learning your subjects and turning what you learn into a great photo (all while stepping outside your comfort zone). I could list a bunch of reasons why I'm doing this, but the last sentence is the largest and most important.

Included below is the first and only picture I've taken for the project. I know I'm already behind the curve; I'm taking comfort in the fact that not only is the first is the hardest, but that it should get easier as time by. I probably won't clog this blog up with 100 pictures, so be sure to check out my Flickr stream or the project page on for on-going updates.

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