100 Strangers

Last Sunday my photowalk group decided to meet in the Business District of Vancouver, one of one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods. It was an architectural walk and our focus was on the beauty and detail of the historical buildings that surrounded us.

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The buildings were absolutely lovely but what really interested me were the men and women I saw walking down the street. I found I had to keep holding myself back from photographing people as I struggled to concentrate on the buildings.

An attractive, middle-aged couple, who looked like they should be strolling along 5th Avenue in New York, were walking their gorgeous, black poodle and I stopped to chat and pet their dog. I almost asked if I could photograph the three of them but, unfortunately, let the moment slip away. The few people I did photograph inspired me to buy the book “Humans of New York” on my lunch hour the next day and I became instantly obsessed with the images and narratives in this work. I showed it to a friend at the office who also loves photography and a few minutes later she emailed me a link to the 100 strangers project on flickr. As I looked at the images, I thought, “Why am I not part of this?”

So now I am part of it and I’ll be photographing and chatting with various strangers I see on the street and posting the photos and stories here and on flickr. The rules of 100 Strangers Project state that it is a learning experience, not a race to take 100 photos and if you aren’t learning anything, you must leave the group. So I’m in, I’m ready to learn and I cannot wait to get started on this journey. As my friend, Sandrine, posted on facebook today: Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.

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I love his expression. Happy and proud.

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Happy hipster heading to Gastown.

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I wish I had asked this man more than “Can I take your picture”? Who is he? He’s so talented. How did he end up on the street? I’m going to go back to look for him next week.

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14 Comments on “100 Strangers

  1. I love this idea and can hardly wait to see what magical things catch your eye. You are so talented with a camera and I so enjoy seeing the world through your eyes. Thank you for this beautiful gift.

  2. Laurel, I was so impressed with the architectural photos at the start of this post, and then fell in love with the idea of this 100 Strangers project. I can’t wait to see the rest of your journey through this project. Totally and completely cool!

  3. Congratulations on starting your 100 strangers project! I hope you find it as rewarding as I do – although i must say that it’s been a while since my last stranger portrait. It seemed to be easier back in Canada… Here in Hong Kong it seems so much more intimidating to stop and ask a stranger. Much different culture. I guess that’s part of the challenge. I look forward to your portraits – good luck!

  4. Thanks Peter. I absolutely love some of your strangers. I was just talking to a friend last night about how this project would be easier in certain cities and more difficult in others so I see what you mean about the cultural difference. The worst part for me is that blank stare you get while the person is deciding if they’ll say yes but I’ll probably get used to it as time goes on. I hope you keep photographing strangers every so often in Hong Kong!

  5. This is a super idea. I did a 365 project where I took a photo a day for a year in order to learn the manual features of a digital camera my kids gave me for Christmas. I did learn a lot. I always found taking photos of strangers difficult. I really wanted candid photos, but I was too shy at the time to ask permission to take a photo. There’s lots out there on the internet about photographing people, thank goodness. I particularly liked weekly tips from “The Digital Photography School.” Warmest wishes, Jane from http://www.SheAgesWithClass.com

  6. Asking strangers if it’s okay to photograph them isn’t easy at all, especially if you’re a little shy. But I think that’s part of what makes this such a great project. It takes you right out of your comfort zone and forces you to approach people you normally wouldn’t. That alone makes me love this project. Now if my photography improves too, I’ll be a happy blogger 🙂

  7. Hi, Laurel,
    I look at the above pictures, they are very sharp and in good focus and exposure. i was wondering what brand name of camera do you use.
    Ming Ly.

  8. Hi Laurel, I am doing the 100 strangers project too and it’s an awesome ride. Looking forward to seeing your shots or maybe I have already). Have you put any in the group yet?

  9. Hi Laurel, I am doing the 100 strangers project too and it’s an awesome ride. Looking forward to seeing your shots 9or maybe I have already). Have you put any in the group yet?

    • I’ve posted some strangers on flickr and added the group’s link at the bottom but I’m not sure if my photos are showing up in the pool?

  10. Thank you for linking my post about Dexter! I really love your photographs…you have a great perspective!

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