I took a picture of the cherry tree in Lewis’s front yard on Charles Street. We struck up a conversation, and I said aloud what I’d been secretly thinking for some time.
“I’m thinking of starting a project where I take pictures of strangers, folks I’ve just met or hardly know. I love to take pictures of most everything, but it’s hard to work up the nerve to ask to take a picture of a person.”
Lewis encouraged me.
“Oh, you should meet my neighbor. She has a garden and bunny rabbits. I bet you’d like to take her picture.”
“Why, yes, I would. But I’d also love to take your picture. Maybe not today Lewis, but someday soon, if it’s okay with you. I’ll print the picture and give it to you as my thank you gift.”
“That’d be fine. Come on ‘round anytime.”
You see, I’ve been taking pictures of shape and form and lines and color and all the while, tip-toeing up to what interests me most, people. It takes courage, openness, and the willingness to risk, but the rewards are great. For in every encounter for a portrait, there is kinship and connection; the possibility of friendship; and the reverence for our sameness and our differences.
I’ve been on the lookout for a new project. The 100 Strangers Project is not new, only new to me. If I learned anything from my 365 Project it’s just how much a project and a practice can change you – better than before.
I’m afraid to begin, and afraid not to.