Chrysta (#739) 12-23-14

Chrysta was sitting by herself outside of the coffee shop. I was glad I asked the spelling. I don't know how many ways there are to spell what sounds like Chrysta, but I never wold have guessed this one. She lives in Bradenton, ten miles north, but works in Sarasota. In fact she works less than a block away at Micheal’s on Main, a gallery and boutique. She was waiting for her boss.

After photographing Chrysta, I sat at a nearby table. A young man approached her, and from the body language I surmised that he was panhandling. After a few moments, she got up and went inside. Then he came over to me, which will be the next stranger story.

Later, I passed Chrysta inside the shop. I asked if the man had 'chased' her inside. She gave a weak smile and nodded yes. The local merchants have hired a security guard to patrol the block and prevent these things from happening. No good answer.


Dave and Samantha (#738) 12-22-14

Dave wore a shirt that Said “Germantown.” I asked if that was in Pennsylvania and he said, “I don't know, I got this from my brother, in Tennessee.” It seems like everyone wears a shirt that says something.

Dave and Samantha are from Pittsburgh and are visiting his parents in Sarasota. For two days. When we spoke it was overcast, but it was sunny in Pittsburgh. You can't win. But still, they were able to walk on the beach, and were grateful for that.

I asked, what should people reading this know about you? Dave said, “I don't know. I guess that we like to get away for any length of time, no matter how short.”


Brittany (#737) 12-20-14

I meet so many strangers outside of a coffee shop, Pastry Art, that it is appropriate to occasionally photograph employees. This is one of my few indoor shots at ISO 800.

As I placed my order, Brittany said, “Nice camera!”, my lead in. I replied, “Thanks. Guess what I like to photograph?”, and away we went. She was a bit reluctant, but caved in when she saw my Photostream on the phone. I had not seen her before. Probably because she has only worked there for a month, and then only on weekends. She said that her main job is as a hairstylist.

“Hairstylist? But you are hiding your hair under a wool cap!”

“Bad hair day.”

“Hairstylists shouldn't have bad hair days.”

Shrug, with palms up.


Daniel (#736) 12-19-14

I had a coffee 'date' with Eric, stranger #457. See him HERE.  I arrived first, on a beautiful Sunday for outdoor dining. While waiting, I saw Daniel at a nearby table and decided to 'get some work' done prior to meeting Eric.

Daniel is 17, and a student at Suncoast Polytechnic High School in Sarasota. I am embarrassed to admit that I had not heard of it. Suncoast is a magnet school, with a majority of students taking advanced placement courses. Daniel also takes courses at State College of Florida. He hopes to attend nearby New College, on a career path to naturopathy.

Daniel is well read and thinks deeply about environmental, biologic, and political affairs. He is not shy about expressing his opinions. When Eric arrived, the three of us had a lively discussion. I said to Daniel, “I'll bet that you are near the top of your class.” He gave a small smile and shrugged, “I'm in the top 25%.” Yeah, that means that he's in the top 75% too, but I doubt that adequately describes his standing.

He was interested in the project, and we quickly became Facebook friends. Not surprisingly, I am too old to understand the cultural context of most of his posts. But he did use one of my images as his avatar, which always gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling.

As an aside, I got to play with Eric's Leica, a first for me.


Ha (#735) 12-18-14

Ha is a local artist, originally from Viet Nam. When she first came to the U.S., her family moved to Michigan in a September. She was surprised at how cool the weather was. In a few months, Ha learned what cold really means. Sarasota is nice. Her father is now a Snowbird, spending his winters in Florida.

I first saw her drinking coffee with Justin, stranger #436. See him HERE.  I approached Justin and reminded him about the encounter. He smiled, and immediately remembered, pointing to the table at which he was sitting. I asked him, would you introduce me to your friend? So I met Ha. I showed her Justin's image on my phone and she was immediately very interested. I remarked that she had no accent. Justin smiled and said, “Well, sometimes...”, “Like when she's mad?” I said. More smiling, “Maybe...”

She pulled out her phone and showed me some very nice B&Ws. One was a sunset with a thin line of clouds immediately above the horizon. I liked the hi contrast effect to emphasize structure. Most people would keep it color and pump up saturation, being mesmerized by the pinks. But most impressive (to me) was that she takes, and processes, the images with the phone. No computer needed! She does multiple kinds of art, including pencil drawing and painting. Her goal is to photograph her art and showcase on social media platforms to promote sales. Ha does not have her own website yet, but some of her work can be seen on Tumblr, HERE.  There's a lot of talent in this world, you just never know where you'll find it.

I asked if she worked with Justin. “Oh no, we're just friends. We used to do a little music together. Justin plays the guitar and I dabble with a violin.” I admit that in 66 years, I have not heard the words 'violin' and 'dabble' in the same sentence.


Zack (#734) 17-12-14

As I walked on Main St., I heard Zack's voice before I saw him. He was sitting in a doorway, and I immediately remembered why I pursue strangers to photograph only in public places, during broad daylight. I knew what was coming; Zack asked for financial for lunch, as he had recently gotten out of prison. I always have a few dollars in one pocket that can be accessed without pulling out my wallet. And as I always do in these situations, I offered a deal and told him about the 100 Strangers project. Zack immediately agreed to be photographed and I handed him the few dollars before further dialog or photography. I feel that this builds a degree of trust, and opens the door for more meaningful conversation.

Zack spent four years in prison, in Ft. Myers. He was released three months ago. Upon release, he was offered a bus ticket to anywhere in the continental United States. Zack chose a town in Oregon, as that is where his mother lives. There was a layover is Sarasota where he had “three hours to kill”, (bad choice of words). He got into a fight in the bus station and was not allowed to continue the trip. So he has been homeless here, and has since gotten into over 20 fights. He explained why, using extensive profanity and racially incorrect language. Small wonder that he spends his time fighting. It sounds like a sad dead end.


Nikki (#733) 12-16-14

I saw Nikki buying fruits and veggies at an outdoor market. She was very discerning, carefully inspecting each item. I cannot say exactly what caught my eye, it just seemed to be her 'presence.' When I approached her and explained the project, she was reticent. When Nikki saw my Flickr Photostream on the phone, she was converted.

Nikki was born and raised in Sarasota, graduating from Sarasota High School. She relocated to California for a while, but found the pace too fast. She prefers the laid back west coast of Florida, but the pace has increased here a bit too. She lives by University Blvd., which has sprouted a new, huge, upscale mall. It has changed everything. Concrete Hell is creeping in.


Timmy (#732) 15-12-14

I saw Timmy from a distance at my favorite Farmer's Market. Gee, I wonder what caught my eye... The sun was high in the sky, and there was no way to photograph him where he was. When I introduced myself, and the project, he immediately “got it” and was cooperative. He gladly moved ~20 yards, into shade. The reason he “got it” is that he is an artist, and understands projects and anxiety.

Timmy had just moved to Sarasota from Sedona AZ, 1 ½ weeks previously. Already he misses Arizona, but his ex wife is in Sarasota and he wants to be close to his son.

Now, the art; Timmy paints. He paints abstract subjects on wood, up to five feet square. He liked the image, and asked for the digital file. I sent it today, and also asked for his website. I cannot find it on Google – unusual. I did find his Instagram account.


Mimi (#731) 12-14-14

Mimi caught my eye, well, her hat did first. And I told her so. I think that she was flattered, and happy to be photographed.

Originally from Chicago, she is now a full time Sarasota resident. Recently, I've met several strangers who have relocated from Chicago. Hmmm... About the move, she said “Yes, I'm no fool.”

Mimi assembles jewelry and sells it at local shows. She has no store of her own, but her pieces are displayed in several local shops.


Ellie (#730) 12-13-14

Ellie had no problem with being photographed. In fact, she LOVES being photographed. She is from Chicago, and moved here five years ago to be near her aging parents. Ellie is an artsy craftsy type. She likes gardening, pottery, painting, etc.

She immediately gave this sort of sultry look. She like the images, but complained about the wrinkles – she was smiling, not really upset. I told her that God made Photoshop for that purpose. Of course I didn't say that I would USE it for that purpose. :-)


Beverly (#729) 12-12-14

Beverly was walking fairly quickly with a shopping bag in her arms. I was glad that she stopped when I approached her, I halfway expected her to be too much in a rush. I took it a few seconds to warm up to being photographed, but finally she said,”Let me put this bag in the car first.” I assured her that it was not necessary, but she was already crossing the street with the car trunk automatically opening.

She did come back (whew!). Beverly is originally from Columbus Ohio, but has been in this area for 35 years. She was shopping while her future Daughter-in-Law got her hair done at a nearby beauty salon. I congratulated her on the upcoming wedding.

Beverly liked the image, but had no interest in getting a copy. Many viewers will criticize this for the hair over the eyes. I like the spontaneity, and authenticity that it implies.


Talmadge #728 (12-11-14)

I asked if Talmadge was a family name. “No. it's a Hippy name. Both of my parents were Hippys. He said that he liked having his picture taken. My kind of guy!

He graduated from Venice High School, a cool 40 years after me. But prior to that, he attended Booker High School, which is very strong in visual and performing arts. When I asked where he worked, Talmadge said that I might be surprised to know that there is a Buddhist temple in Sarasota. I said that HE might be surprised that I know about it, and have attended meditation sessions.

Talmadge works there as the cook. He asked if I had eaten lunch after a meditation session. I said yes, in a noncommittal (I hope) way. I am not into spicy foods, and I learned more than I wanted to know about Indian food. The meal looked like a thin stew, but it burned a column straight from my mouth to my you-know-what. I'm sure that it's Asian fare that disagrees with me, not his culinary skills.


Emery (#727) 11-12-14

I met Emery on a Sunday morning, he was wearing a badge that said "First Baptist Church." I asked a question.

 "No, I'm not a minister, just a believer."


Patrick and Katie (#726) 12-10-14

Patrick and Katie work at the renown Asolo Theater in Sarasota. Katie is an actress, and Patrick is a stage manager. “We've got it covered!” They came from New York, 52nd Street in Manhattan to be exact. They moved to Sarasota five years ago to work at the Asolo.

I two days Patrick and Katie will visit the brand new Performing Arts Center in Venice to view a new production. This center was built by the Venice High School in collaboration with the city and county. It is an unusual cooperation between government structures, and is less than a mile from my house. Maybe I'll see Patrick and Katie there sometime.


Heather (#725) 12-09-14

A small outdoor art show drew a medium crowd. There were numerous possibilities. The lady who most attracted me was in a wheelchair, being pushed by a much younger man, and accompanied by a younger woman. I trailed along and waited until they entered an area of acceptable light.

As soon as I began speaking and the man stopped, I got down on a knee to speak at her level. Her name is Heather, but it sounded more like Heatha, as she is a native Brit. Delightful accent. Many years ago she relocated to Windsor, Ontario. “It's directly across from Detroit”, she informed me. She is currently in Sarasota visiting her cousins, the young couple with her.

Heatha approved of the images, but had no interest in getting a copy. “My cousins are constantly taking pictures of me with their cell phones.”


Chance and Scribbles (#724) 12-08-14

Chance was playing the banjo with Scribbles sitting at his side. Their dog, Muddy, looked the part and I kept my distance. They are from New York, but have spent most of their lives in Rhode Island. They have lived all over, but would like to settle in southwest Florida; they will probably look for work in St. Petersburg. Chance has a college degree and can substitute teach if necessary. But they would rather entertain in restaurants. They have a van that substitutes as a bedroom, when necessary. Besides Chance's banjo, Scribbles plays the Uke.





Scribbles let me know that she is going by a nickname – no surprise. Besides playing the ukelele, she draws and paints.


Dillon (#723) 12-07-14

As I walked past the Spain Restaurant and Toma Bar in Tampa, Dillon commented on my camera. After a quick look he said that he had not seen an Olympus in years. He has a Canon 5D Mark lll, and does wedding photography with three separate cameras. Dillon had no reservations about being photographed.

Originally fro Maine, he moved to the area 1 ½ years ago and works at the Spain Restaurant, thus heeding the admonition for professional photographers, “Keep your day job.” He liked his image and we exchanged cards. His work is impressive. See it HERE.


Joseph (#722) 12-06-14

Walking past Sykes Park in Tampa, I saw a woman pacing, and moved closer with the intention of meeting and photographing her. As I got closer, it became obvious that she was talking to herself in a barking staccato voice. Actually she seemed to be arguing with herself and it was not obvious who was winning.

decided to move on and approach Joseph who was sitting quietly on a bench, arguing with no one. He was receptive, and happy to be photographed. Joseph said that he is from Norway. I expressed my surprise, as I detected no hint of a Scandinavian accent. Joseph said that as a young boy, his parents hated him and dropped him out of an airplane onto Alcatraz. He later escaped The Rock by riding on the back of a porpoise. While I planned a graceful exit strategy, Joseph continued that he had both designed, and built, the multistory bank across the street. Finally he said that I had a nice looking camera, a token nod to reality.

I just don't understand how such people on the streets can function at any level. I have to wish them well.


Sumayya (#721) 12-05-14

While sipping a cup of Joe in the Indigo Coffee Shop, I watched Sumayya working diligently on a laptop. She was intent, and clearly not just doing e-mail, or Twittering her life away. Her scarf made me hope that she was Muslim (she was). I envy Jeff Bowen in Toronto, where there seems to be a huge Muslim population from which to draw. Not so in Southwest Florida.

I was delighted when she was happy to talk and be photographed. Sumayya is attending the Cooley School of Law in nearby Riverview, FL. I had not heard of it, but is part of Western Michigan University. See it HERE.

Sumayya is from Syria. Her parents and siblings are in the U.S., but she has lots of other relatives who did not emigrate. They have successfully fled Syria, however. Sumayya says that the conditions are worse than seen on TV. I asked if they went to Turkey. “No, Jordan. It is stable.” I winced. Jordan is politically stable, but geographically vulnerable. I hate to think what would happen if King Abdulla were to exit the scene. Even if the war ended tomorrow, she said that it would take many years to rebuild.

I asked Sumayya if she has experienced discrimination. She said that there was for a couple of years after 911, but not since. The apparent discrimination online is largely due to anonymity, in person there is little.


Evonski (#720) 12-04-14

It was a cold windy morning in Tampa, when I saw Evonsky briskly walking on the other side of the street. I was headed for the Indigo Coffee Shop, and that's where she turned in. When I got there , she was ordering something very complicated (to me), And REALLY liked it on the first sip. She complimented the barista. As she headed for the door, I intercepted her with my usual request, telling her that I was attracted to her hairstyle. Evonski was a little suspicious, but as she stepped outside, she agreed.

She is a native Floridian from Quincy, in the panhandle. That morning it was snowing in Quincy. She works in downtown Tampa, but was not anxious to tell me where. It's interesting that I've had this reaction in downtown Tampa before – there seems to be a secrecy about the workplace.

She liked the image and gave me her e-mail so that I could send it along. I did. First I assured her that this was a hobby and there was no charge.