First Stranger

So, this is the first post of the New Year and my new project:  the 100 Strangers Project.  The task is to find 100 strangers willing to be photographed while I try not to have a heart attack in the process.

WHY is this so difficult for me?  I don’t know.  I learned last spring in a street photography course that I’m really, really chicken when it comes to this stuff.  And it’s not that I have an issue with talking to people generally; it’s just that bringing a camera into the mix is a totally different story.

I feel weird about it.  But that’s what this project is about:  getting over that.

So today, I drove to a local dog park, trying to talk myself into this thing. There were a couple of runners, but it didn’t feel right to stop them.  Then there was an older woman just stepping out of her car and wearing the most interesting leopard print coat, but I was afraid I might scare her.  (I know, I know:  excuses!)  Each person I passed intimidated me.  Just as I turned around, ready to return to my car with my tail between my legs so-to-speak, I ran into Alfie and his owner.  As Alfie squatted suddenly to do his business, his owner cracked a joke, “Well, this is not the best first impression.”

This was my opportunity.  I explained about the project and was so thrilled and relieved to find that he was willing to help me out!

1_Alfie - 2388w

This is actually the only shot I took,  and if I could do it over again, I sure would (maybe ask him to pose with Alfie, get in tighter, get out of the direct sunlight, adjust some settings), but I was dealing with a serious case of  nerves, so as far as I’m concerned, it counts.  It may not be my finest work technically (and note:  this was not in any way caused by the subject but because of ME), but it was most definitely a valuable learning experience.

Project veterans would have certainly asked Alfie’s owner for his name (DOH!) and chatted with him more.   I did a little more research, and it seems that most photographers doing this project do seek to share a little bit of the person’s story.  Well, I’m surely not THERE yet.

I don’t know when this is going to get any easier for me, but HUGE thanks to Alfie’s owner for helping me get started!  I so appreciate your kindness.

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20 thoughts on “First Stranger

  1. I totally understand how you feel, as I’m the same. I think this is a great way to push yourself to get out there. Good luck!!

    • Oh I know, I know, there’s A LOT of input to be made here…I do plan to be more discerning in the future. But it was just a first hump I had to get over, so: small victories!

  2. What a great idea but you do choose difficulty. I’d be so depressed at facing 99 to go. At least it’s a smaller number than 365. Shooting landscapes involves no interpersonal conflict. Excelsior!

  3. I would be equally as uncomfortable, but this is a great project in so many ways. Stepping out of our comfort zones is where we uncover who we are – easy for wimpy me to say. You encourage me to do it. Look for that woman in the leopard coat next time. What a story she might be.

  4. ha ha ha…..Nice picture Fiebs. Way to break the ice. It’s all down hill from here. I mean it will get easier and easier. Or you will run into some very difficult people who will make it much more difficult, but as you know nothing truly worthwhile comes easily. Go get’em Fiebs!

  5. 90mm would be better — creates good bokeh to blur the distracting background, perhaps, if that is a ‘mess’. But, remember, patience is the key, meaning waiting for the right moment. It won’t always be the first thing you see, and always consider the environment, less is best. Is this strangers project just going to be posed photos, like in this post?

    • Thanks for the advice, Janina. No, I plan to mix it up and will likely trade between the 85, 100, and 50 mm. Usually I do pack a second lens with me, but I’d forgotten this time.

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