Bob (824) 03-31-15

Inside Starbuck's, Bob asked me about the camera. I cannot overstate how much the Olympus OM-D E-M5 has raised interest among strangers, and led to a portrait. He said that he uses a Panasonic camera with a Leica lens. We stepped outside for mutual portraits. Bob's camera was a small pocket sized Panasonic that looked like it had been through World War III. He bought the Leica lens for $7 at a garage sale; it didn't work. But he fiddled with it and got it going. What a bargain!

His main interest is event photography, as seen in his Flickr Photostream:

When back inside, Bob was working on a laptop. He waved me to come over and he was checking my Flickr stream. Specifically, he was eyeing stranger #576, Heather.

She reminded him of Steve McCurry's Afghan Girl. I should live so long! But I do see a superficial resemblance in the composition.

Bob said that he usually widens the pupils in Photoshop. Girls like it. He explained that the pupil normally widens when something pleasing is seen. Sunglasses were first used in Istanbul by buyers checking rugs in a store. They didn't want the vendor to see their pupils widen when they saw a carpet that they wanted.

Who knew?


Caroll (#823) 03-30-15

I was blessed by finding a small arts and crafts show in downtown Sarasota. The weather could not have been nicer. A young lady was 'manning' a booth for Watson Creations.

They manufacture and sell unique through pillows. All are hand made in Gibsonton, FL, about 40 miles to the north.

Caroll is originally from Puerto Rico and moved to Tampa 3 ½ years ago. Some family followed her to the U.S., but her parents remain in P.R. She does get to visit them. She has no preference for Florida over P.R., the climate is similar. Caroll was shy, but glad to be photographed.


Frankie (#822) 03-29-15

I saw Frankie across the street. He was Photographing an old car with a camera that looked somewhat like my Olympus OM-D E-M5. I quickly crossed the street and asked about the camera. He said, “Yeah, I saw you across the street and wondered about the camera.” But his is a Canon.

A Canon FILM camera. He lives in nearby Winter Garden and gets his film developed there. But the store doesn't stock cameras. It seems no one does anymore. Sigh... Frankie is not a professional photographer, he works for Coca-Cola.


Pierre (#821) 03-28-15

Walking through Winter Park, Pierre was sitting on a bench on park Ave. He was on the cell phone. Suddenly he laughed, exposing gold teeth – all of them that I could see. I had to get a shot, so I waited about 50 feet away. Of course, he seemed to stay on the phone forever, so I looked for a spot with good light and a decent background. Holy smokes, about 20 feet away was the perfect sign!

When Pierre finally was free, I approached him. He was receptive, although shy. He liked my idea of the sign and kneeled down without reservation. Pierre works at the nearby Pairs Bistro. Although from Polk County (about 30 miles away) he is able to stay with friends close to work.

The million dollar smile.


Swami (#820) 03-25-15

As I walked past an indoor-outdoor eatery in Winter Park, Swami was sitting just inside, perfect for light. Swami?? That's what he said! It's his real name. He teaches math at the Ampersand School in nearby Longwood. Looking at the faculty, sure enough: Swami Howard. Clearly this an alternative school for the gifted. Swami is no ordinary teacher, and his students call him, Mr. Swami.

Many years ago he did computer graphics. Swami went into the history of mathematics, about how mathematicians look for patterns. He says that it's much more interesting than crunching formulas. Many patterns in biology can be expressed, and predicted by math. He then spoke about a new DNA base pair being synthesized and inserted into the E. Coli genome. This greatly increases the number of base pair possibilities in defining genes. Like I said, no ordinary teacher. His students are lucky, and had better keep up!

What caught my eye originally was the logo on his shirt.

Of course, the reverse side had nerd stuff too.


Trudy (#819) 03-24-15

I was having a snack with Al, in front of Pastry Art. I first met Al as one of my strangers from the Flickr group, 100 Strangers.

His German Shepard, Kash, is a service dog who is unbelievably well trained. The local merchants all recognize Al and Kash, and Kash draws the attention.

Trudy and her daughter were about to walk by, but Trudy stopped to pet Kash. She marveled at his beauty and training.

Trudy: “I once had a friend who had a yellow lab. He lived to 16!”

Al: “Kash is 9, and he will live a long life. If a dog is penned up in a yard, they live a short life. If they get love and freedom, they live long.” Kash is not on a leash.

Trudy is from Winnipeg, Ont. She is in Sarasota visiting her daughter.

“That's backwards. Young people are supposed to visit their parents, or grandparents, in Florida.”

“I know. I'm not stupid.”

The daughter came back to pet Kash. She refused to be photographed. Too bad, she would have looked great.


Abe (#818) 03-23-15

In Winter Park, Abe was quickly walking toward me. His sartorial splendor caught my eye, so I managed to get him to stop.

He was formal and very cordial, even though he clearly had somewhere to go. Abe is a limousine chauffeur and had just delivered a gaggle of bankers to a meeting.

Abe is from Ethiopia, and has been in the U.S. For 20 years.

“Do you like it here better?”

Oh yeah...”

Abe spoke with a slight British accent, very aristocratic sounding. Each time he leaned to move on, I said something and he stopped. Very polite.


Sam and Rachel (#817) 03-22-15

On Saturday mornings, the downtown area is packed to the gills. I stood across the street from my coffee hangout, Pastry Art, and there was absolutely no place to sit. Rachel and Sam had to sit on the curb while Sam ate.

So to reduce their pain and brighten their day, I met them and asked for a portrait. By herself, Rachel would have declined, but Sam affirmed for both of them, between bites.

Rachel graduated from a local high school, and said that she is “only a cashier” at a golf driving range. I corrected her; You're not “only” a cashier, you are a CASHIER! “That is honorable work, and you are contributing to society. I'm not sure that she bought into that.

Sam went to a local school for the gifted and now attends Florida State University. For full disclosure, I admitted that I was an alumnus of the rival University of Florida. He smiled, shrugged, and never stopped chewing. They were in a hurry, waiting for a ride. I stood in the road to get my shots, and a blue Toyota Prius honked the horn right in my ear. I jumped, but it was Sam and Rachel's ride announcing his arrival. I said that he'd be lucky to find a parking place within 1/2mile.

All of Sam's images showed him chewing. He thought that it was a hoot. After shaking hands and leaving, I sat on a window ledge filling out my journal. An older man came for them. I could hear him asking in an accusing tone, “Who was that? Why was he taking pictures?” I quickly jumped up and showed hi my Flickr stream and explained the project. After a few seconds he gave a weak smile and asked when they would receive their check. I told him that I was a Florida Gator and Sam wouldn't believe me anyway. We all had a laugh, and I felt that I had diffused a situation.


Randy (#816) 03-21-15

About 8:30AM, Randy was struggling to walk down the sidewalk. His left foot was in a cast, and the right foot bandaged. Finally he sat on the curb where I met, and photographed, him.

Randy Is originally from Illinois. He was working on a construction site north of Tampa. He went with a few friends to party in Tampa at night. He woke up in an emergency room, something had run over his foot while he was sleeping, six weeks ago.

“While you were sleeping? Didn't you wake up?”

“Well, I had a few drinks.”

I guess!

“Actually it was about half a quart of vodka. Something ran over my foot and took my boots. My boots were gone.”

Orthopedic pins and a plate were used to repair his left foot. I have to admit, the foot looks pretty ugly.

While in Sarasota, someone stole his wheelchair. He wants to get to a hospital today to get another wheelchair. I'm not sure how that will work.


Karen (#815) 03-20-15

During the Farmer's Market, all neighboring streets are crowded with pedestrians. Parker's used books is ½ block away, and a table was set up pn the sidewalk; Karen Ross was selling her first novel. She was excited. I explained the 100 Strangers concept and the W. B. Yeats quote: “There are no strangers here; only friends that you haven't yet met.” Karen loved it.

The book is entitled “Chianti Souls.”

Karen loves all things Italy, and this theme came naturally. I bought a copy for a cool $8. It is a romance novel, not my usual thing, but this just hit the spot. And I like Italy too, particularly Venice. People watching is fantastic. Karen had two quotes about Venice, both of which appear in the book.

“Where the past lives in the present.”

“Elegant decay.”

So true. Karen and her husband honeymooned in Italy. The men were so handsome that her husband said that he was afraid that she'd run off with one. Her response: “Me too!” This theme is woven through “Chianti Souls.”

She liked the concept and her pics. I've e-mailed them too her.


Damian (#814) 19-03-15

I made a stop at the Selby Library (Sarasota), and saw Damian peacefully sitting on a bench, outside. He was shy, but friendly, and had no reservations about being photographed.

Damian was born and raised in Sarasota. He attended Booker High, but graduated from rival Southeast High in Bradenton. When I told him that I spent most of my adult life in Venice, he said that he had just moved from there. He worked at the Boys and Girls club in Venice and loved it. Ironically, I had visited that club just a few weeks earlier. It is an enormous building, and the programs are very impressive. Unfortunately Damian became very ill, resulting in a two week hospitalization. He was not able to continue with that job.

Today was his first day working at the Longboat Key Club. I asked if he could get a job at the Sarasota Boys and Girls club. Damian said that he probably could, but it just wouldn't be the same. He had really bonded with the kids in Venice.

He really liked the picture and gave me his e-mail address. I will send it right now!


Suzanne (#813) 03-18-15

I have settled on the square format, contrasty black and white. To my own personal taste, it seems to be the best way to attempt to show the essence of a person's personality. That's just me. But I'd like to expand some of the stories just a bit and another image or two may be required. Recently I have switched to a zoom lens (Gasp!) to allow occasional wider views. Time will tell.

When visiting downtown Sarasota (like 5 times per week) I often park on the second floor of the Whole Foods parking garage. Before descending the stairs, I have the opportunity to scan folks eating in front of the store. I am facing east, so in the mornings the store shades the sidewalk, allowing decent light. In the afternoons the harsh light is hopeless.

Occasionally, someone catches my eye and I immediately go to work. That's how I saw Suzanne, although she is not in that shot. Her light hair and the dark background were compelling.

For six months each year, Suzanne and her husband live on a ski lake in the northeast corner of Indiana. For the other six months, they reside on Longboat Key, an exclusive and desirable location.

“Are you going back to Indiana soon?”

“Oh no, not until May 1 when we can put the boat in.”

“Are your neighbors jealous?”

“Oh yeah...”

She was originally wary and reticent. But as soon as the camera came up, twice, she assumed this look with the alluring head tilt.

Suzanne knew what she was doing.


Bob and Heather (#812) 03-17-15

This was kind of an offbeat encounter, and they kept me a bit off balance. They were having a snack outdoors. When I introduced myself, The young man said, “I'm Bob.”

“Oh, your Bob Too?”

“Yep, I'm Bob.”

“Most people your age remain 'Robert'. Folks my age are 'Bob'”

“Well, my father was Robert, so I'm Bob.”

Bob (that Bob) is a Sarasota native. He works at Whole Foods, a couple of blocks away.

The lady stuck out her hand and said, “Hi. I'm Bob.”

“You're Bob too?”

“Yeah. Bob is short for Heather.”

“I guess your father was Heather too.”

“Yep, Heather.”

HeatherBob said that she's from Sarasota-ish, “I'm from 'Around.'” She was wearing sunglasses and had a hard time not squinting when they came off.

They seemed to like the images, but they were so offbeat that it was hard to tell. Bob (the guy) gave me his e-mail address, which was an unusual combination of letters. He said that it meant “He who speaks the truth” in Surinam. I could not confirm that.

Bob (THIS Bob)

Kendra (#811) 03-16-15

Kendra was visiting her parents for two weeks; she is from Lancaster, PA. Snow was on the ground there as we spoke. Her grandparents lived here for many years, and Kendra enjoyed a one week vacation. She gets two weeks this year as she had just graduated from a two year nursing program.

“What kind of nursing do you hope to do? Hospital? Doctors office?”

“Anything, I just want a job!”

Work seems to be a challenge to find in any field. I had difficulty in avoiding a camera smile – this is as close to a natural look as I could get. She liked it, and I e-mailed her a copy.


Victoria (#810) 03-15-15

I spotted Victoria walking purposefully on the sidewalk, taking numerous photographs with her Nikon DSLR. She was shy, but did allow the encounter to continue. She is a sophomore at the Ringling School of Art and Design. What a coincidence! Twenty minutes earlier I had met and photographed Alexis, a recent Ringling graduate. Her image is in the 100 Strangers Flickr group comments of Samuel, Victoria remembers her well.

Victoria is from Zypherhills, FL, majoring in Graphic Design. She was taking pictures of signs to show various typographies, for a class. She liked the images, and gave me her e-mail address to send a copy.


Tim (#809) 03-14-15

Tim was having a drink at one of my favorite light locations, Smokin' Joe's Bar. His tongue was nicely lubricated, so we had a good chat. He was born in Sarasota in 1952 – not many natives left. Several of his classmates remain in the area, including the local optometrist, funeral director, and Paul Reubens (Google him). After finishing at Sarasota High School, he attended the University of Florida School of Journalism. It is always highly rated. Then he worked at the Sarasota Herald Tribune, in the advertising department. His father had held the same position for 35 years.

Tim retired a few years ago and worked at the family motel on Lido beach for three years. Now he's really retired. While at the U of F he did some photojournalism. Tim won an award for one series, including an old lady clutching a racing card at a dog racing track. One of his high moments.

Now Tim lives downtown and is living the good life. He even gave up his car – saves 5k on payments and insurance.


Peter (#808) 03-13-15

Peter is a watercolor artist. I first saw him painting on a small canvas, on an easel, on the sidewalk in downtown Sarasota. He seemed to be painting an urban landscape. I thought of talking to him, but there were earbuds in both ears – he was listening to music on his phone. So I left.

The next day, there he was about a block away. This time the canvas was larger. The buds were still in, but what the heck, I just disturbed him. Peter was friendly and talkative. He has lived in San Diego and the Seattle area. For the past 11 years, he has had a house in Maine for the summers and one in Ft. Lauderdale in the winters. Therefore, he has lived in all four corners of the continent. He has a good friend in Sarasota, and spends a few days here two or three times per year. And, he paints.

From where we stood, my standard coffee shop, Pastry Art, was only ½ block away and across the street. I commissioned Peter to paint a small “portrait” of Pastry Art. Once painted, he can make prints for business cards, greeting cards, or other accessories. At the moment, he was painting a bar, the Gator Club, and planned to offer it for sale to the owner (the owner bought it). Hopefully he'll do my painting on his next trip here in early April.

As we spoke, the Gator Club picture was just a pencil sketch with no color. I said that I'd return in a couple of hours to get a shot of the painting, over his shoulder. When I did, he was again plugged in. I got the shot without his knowledge (I think).


Andrew and Amy (#807) 03-13-15

Andrew and Amy were visiting Sarasota, from Tampa. They met during high school in the San Francisco area. Now, Andrew is working on his Ph.D. In philosophy at the University of South Florida. I asked why he chose to travel 3,000 miles to study philosophy. “The University of South Florida has one of the top philosophy programs in the nation.” Who knew?

I liked his tee shirt. So I asked what he hoped to be doing in 10 years. “Teaching philosophy.” I asked if all philosophy Ph.D.s wanted to do that. He assured me that many went into industry or other areas. Then he surprised me by turning it around and asking what I wanted to be doing in 10 years. Touche'! He caught me off guard, when I finally said, “I just want to be alive in 10 years.”

Amy works for the American Automobile Association (AAA). Basically, she's putting Andrew through school. I asked if she wanted to be working for AAA in 10 years. Absolutely not, she wants out. Her goal is to be a novelist; she will self publish her first one this summer. And there will be an e-book version. I gave her my e-mail address and MOO card, and asked her to send me the Amazon link when it is available.


Anthony (#806) 03-11-15

I sat at my usual outdoor table at Pastry Art, sipping my cup of Joe. I also have a bad habit of having a saucer-sized M&M cookie with it. Anthony sat at the next table. I had seen him before, so it was time; I introduced myself and asked to meet him and make a portrait. “Naw, man, I'm not interested in having my picture made. Nice to meet you, but no pictures.” I wished him a good day and sat down to drown my sorrows.

A minute later he called over and said, “OK, dude, what do you do with the pictures?” So I told him. “Aw, OK man, you seem like a nice guy. I never let no one take pictures of me, but go ahead.” Wasting no time, I did. While the camera was still up, a guy stopped, greeted Anthony, and shook his hand. As I sat back down, they were talking baseball cards and serious money. Huh?

Anthony has a small pension from the military. And a fetish for sports memorabilia. He has storage units filled with cards in both Sarasota and Cape Coral, autographed baseballs, photos of stars, etc. The spring baseball training season had begun and the Baltimore (Sarasota), Orioles were out of town. That's why Anthony was available. Otherwise he would have been at his kiosk at the Ed Smith Stadium, selling memorabilia. My good fortune.


Nancy (#805) 03-10-15

Nancy and Cody (four legs) were seated just inside of Z's Restaurant, in nice light. She was happy to chat and be photographed. Cody, not so much. “He's skittish with people.” No kidding. Dogs, apparently, are OK.


Nancy is from Connecticut, visiting, and has been visiting Sarasota for six years. Her parents live here; Cody is their dog. He stays inside most of the time and has not developed social skills with humans. While we spoke, a woman came up to Cody with her hand out – Cody accepted this. She also had a full sized poodle (or two, I forget) and they talked dogs for a few minutes.

Nancy loves this project, took a card, and gave me her e-mail address. Cody was a little camera shy, but Nancy got him to cooperate. Sort of.