David (#845) 04-27-15

I had lunch in Station 400, Sarasota. I looked up and behind the cash register was a glorious mustache with David behind it. He was a waiter, but not assigned to me. As I was about to leave he was there again. I asked if I came back in two minutes with a camera, could I get his portrait. He said fine, with a big smile.

I rushed back and got the shot. I said, "I'll bet if I come back in a few weeks, the mustache will be out to here", ans I motioned about two feet with my hands. He said, "No, if you come back in a few weeks, it will probably be gone.

I'm glad I was there that day.


Elijah (#844) 04-26-15

I pulled the car into a different high rise parking lot. As the stairs exit the ground floor, it is into an atrium with comfortable seating and a small coffee shop, Buddy Brew Coffee). The light is slightly low in quantity, but high in quality. So I boosted the ISO to 800 and waited.

Along came Elijah. He is about 6'3” tall and thin. The untied tie accentuated the vertical. So as he exited Buddys with java in hand, I introduced myself. He is soft spoken and a little shy, but was happy to participate. He is a Sarasota native, and for the past 1 ½ years has worked at Louie's Modern Restaurant, which forms the right wall of the atrium.

Elijah really liked the images. He gave me his e-mail address, and it is a Yahoo account. I told him that most people his age use Yahoo, people my age use AOL or GMAIL.

“Why did you choose Yahoo?”

“Yahoo was already my home page, and signing up was easy.”

Maybe this is not as significant as I had thought.


Anastasia (#843) 04-25-15

Well, I am trying to get into the artsy world. Last week I met, but did not photograph, Mike Solomon. He has a local show of his large paintings and acrylic sculptures called, Sea of Light. Here is about Mike http://sarasotavisualart.com/2013/01/interview-with-mike-solomon-artist-and-curator-of-syd-solomons-along-the-shore/

And here is the Alfstad& Gallery and Mikes exhibit. https://www.facebook.com/Alfstad.and?fref=ts

When I entered, I met Anastasia, the curator on duty. No other viewers were there. Anastasia gave me the full tour and explained how Mike constructs his art. I cannot say paints, of sculpts. Various media are involved, and the processes are complicated.

Anastasia was born and raised in Sarasota. She attended Booker High School, known for its programs in the visual and performing arts. Other than that, she is self taught. Anastasia does some painting. Also, for seven years she has worked for Andrea Dasha Reich, who makes amazing art. http://www.andreadashareich.com/commission-prints-1/ Some is displayed in Sarasota; I have to see it. But the work in the art field is not lucrative, and Anastasia is not amassing wealth. Interestingly, as a child she was known as Ann. Only at age 12 did she learn that her full name was Anastasia. Nice that someone clued her in.

As we talked, I felt a portrait coming on. I explained the project and she seemed interested. Until it dawned on her that I wanted her face. She politely declined. I told her that I was surprised when an artist declines. Other artists must realize how difficult making art is, and should be supportive. She capitulated, but insisted on adding lipstick. Sigh...


Anastasia was very happy with the result, as if she had never had a nice photo before. Hard to believe.


Liz and Hope (#842) 04-24-15

They came out of the coffee shop with goodies in hand. And they sat at the perfect (light) table and faced the correct direction. It's better to be lucky than good. I was halfway through explaining my intentions when Liz and Hope smiled and began to giggle. They immediately 'got it' and were happy to participate.

Liz said that she had a common name, Elizabeth Ann. I said that Elizabeth is a name that is popular in all generations. The most enduring male name is Michael. She said, “Oh, my brother is Michael.” Like I said...





Hope said that they worked at Owens Fish Camp, which immediately interested me. This is a restaurant. It looks like a fish camp even though is is several blocks from the water. The statue in front is almost famous; it does look real. Liz said that occasionally someone substitutes a real beer, or some other rearrangement. This is sort of like a fraternity house mascot being defaced by rivals.

Owens also interested me because of its reputation for shrimp and grits. My wife loves that. Hope said that they open at 4PM, and by 4:30 there is a line. Liz said that the fried catfish is to die for. When I think of catfish, it's to die from, not for. But Hope said that it is done in a cornmeal batter, and is excellent.

After showing them the images, Liz was clearly disappointed. She didn't want the image so close, she wanted the dress to show more.



Bob (#841) 04-22-15

Actually his name is Bulat, with a Russian accent.

“Is Bulat a common name in Russia?”

“Sort of, but not like Ivan or Igor! (laugh)”

Bulat has been in the U.S. For 10 years. Most of that time he lived near Detroit. Twice someone asked him if he was Bob from Mackinac. He must look like Bob from Mackinac. So he has adopted the name Bob. Bob moved to Siesta Key, a tony area near Sarasota, a few months ago. He says that he spent the first half of his life in cold, and will spend the second half in warm. His parents, in their 80s, are visiting him now from the mother country; he thinks that they need to move here.

Bob was on his laptop, looking up careers. He hasn't been working for a while, says that he's retired. Hmmm... He liked my Olympus camera. Like so many, he was duped into thinking that it was an old film camera. Olympus did a good job with the trickery. Bob has a Samsung something-or-other camera. With a tripod, he has gotten shots of the moon showing its craters.


Carrie and Craig (#840) 04-21-15

Of course they were having a bite outside Pastry Art. I need to patent this spot. Both were pleasant, and glad to be a part of the project. When asking names, Craig talked funny – obviously a Brit.

Carrie has been here for 10 years, having come from St. Louis. She likes the places equally and says that St. Louis gets a bad rap. The trouble in nearby Ferguson has tainted the impressions of the area. It isn't true, St. Louis is a great city. I told Carrie that my Granddaughter studies broadcast journalism at the University of Missouri In Columbia. Carrie studied Finance at the University of Missouri in St. Louis.

Craig works in information technology. “I wish I were in finance.” He left England five years ago. Craig has been back twice, and said that he and Carrie would go there this summer. The dollar has improved significantly against the pound (big smile).


Clarence (#839) 20-04-15

I was sitting with two other photographers, discussing portraits of Strangers. Jacqueline is a seasoned veteran, but Kyra wants to get started. I explained that when I approach a stranger, I always ask a 'favor'. Most people like to do favors for others. But while we were talking, I kept eying Clarence, at the next table.

He had a commanding appearance, to me. So I told Kyra that I'd give a quick demonstration. As I spoke to Clarence, he was a bit reticent. I showed him my Photostream on the phone, and he asked if he had to give his name. I said that I always asked for first names, but if that was a problem, just lie. I'd never know. That seemed to break the ice and all was well. I explained that Kyra was watching, 'taking notes.'

Clarence is retired, and from Silver Springs, MD. Kyra piped up and said that she was born in Dundalk, a neighborhood of Baltimore. I said that my wife was from Dundalk. Within a few seconds, a common bond was formed. It amazes me how often that happens. For a while, Clarence worked at Floyd Bennett Field, in Brooklyn. I told him that as a kid, my parents took me to Floyd Bennett Field to watch midget cars race. We all have so much in common.

When I pulled up the camera, I started to ask him not to 'say cheese', but instead I said, “Perfect, just stay like that”, as he assumed this gesture. I like it. After I sat down, the three of us and Clarence continued talking about the 100 Strangers project. Another nice day.


Rick (#838) 04-18-15

Continuing my walk with Kyra, I looked for possible subjects to approach – to let her see 'how it's done.' I always do better while showing another photographer the ropes. I don't know why.

Rick was standing in an alcove in front of the Blue Owl Tavern on Main. Previous experience has taught me that the light is almost always good, as are the characters. Rick did not disappoint. Lacking tattoos and metal piercings, he looked relatively conservative. As I began 'asking for a favor', I realized that he had tiny ear buds and black wires. He looked kinda cross as he removed them and I continued my spiel. After a few seconds he said, “Sure, of course.” A pleasant surprise. Twice he asked why I was doing this. I showed him my photostream on the phone, and explained that it was a way to meet people and make new friends. He said “Good for you, that's great.

Rick spent many years in professional photography, mostly commercial, in the Philadelphia area. I asked if he knew Cliff Mountner, a wedding photographer who contributes to the Kelby one site. He did not, and asked if he was in Sarasota. No. We realized that he was confusing that Cliff with Cliff Roles, a local professional photographer.

Having confused the 'Cliffs', Rick gave me the quote of the week. “If I sound confused, it's because I am f***ing inebriated.” I have to disagree, noting the oxymoron here. In my book, anyone who can articulate the five syllable word 'inebriated', isn't. Had he said “f***ing drunk”, I would have no qualms. In any event, he was well on his way.


Arton (#837) 04-17-15

I was walking the streets with Kyra, a photographer who wants to try her hand at Street Portraiture. Approaching a Starbucks, we saw Anton sitting on a wing wall in front of the door. The light is a little harsh at that location: still this has become one of my secondary spots. Kyra had met , and photographed, one stranger - a woman. She was not ready for Arton, so I made the ask.

I was immediately taken back by his thick accent. It took a little work to understand that he is from Kosovo, and he had a hard time understanding what I wanted. But he did agree (obviously) and was a pleasant chap. He works at a nearby Italian restaurant; he gestured down the street, but no Italian restaurant was in sight. Sure enough, the light was harsh and I had to work on the 'racoon' look in processing.

Kyra was just as pleased not to have made the original move. She said that she felt better approaching women. Interesting.


Cameron and Paris (#836) 04-16-15

Cameron and Paris were having a bite in front of Whole Foods. I tend to check this location in the mornings, when the building shades the outdoor tables. In the afternoon, the tables are in bright sunlight, and the area is unusable (for me).

Cameron is from Michigan. Half of Sarasota County is from Michigan. He works at Tommy Bahamas on St. Armands Key. It's a beautiful location, but 'in season' (like now) the drive to get there can be beastly. He lives off Fruitville Rd., probably 6-7 miles from work. But at times it has taken him an hour to get home. We shared bad 'St. Armand's Circle' stories. We each have had the experience of getting onto the circle and not being able to get off. I cannot imagine negotiating the circle around the Arch of Triumph in Paris.

And speaking of Paris, that's actually her middle name; She was not anxious to share her first name. Amazingly she is not from Michigan, but Lakeland, FL. The tattoo on her forearm caught my eye. It is in honor of her two little sisters: one's middle name is Love, and the other is Moon. Very creative.

They liked the images, and I have sent them along.


Harry and Brendon (#835) 04-15-15

One end of the Farmer's Market was blocked by a kiosk with the sign, “Urbanite Theatre.” Sarasota is proud of its artsy tradition, with numerous theaters, galleries, music venues, etc. I had not heard of the Urbanite Theatre. I guess that's because it's brand new. The first performance was the night before.

Urbanite Theatre is Harry's brainchild. It is minute, seating between 50 and 60, depending on the performance and stage arrangement. Brendon explained that the cast is professional, all are paid. The plays selected are intimate and cover controversial topics – this may not be for everyone. But with that tiny seating, it doesn't have to be for everyone. Tickets are $20. Harry said that about half the expenses will (hopefully) be covered by tickets, and the other half by donations.

The physical facility has a funky look – which I did not think to photograph :-(. Brendon is the director of the second play.

The first play is Chicken Soup, and I will see it tomorrow evening. Good luck, Harry and Brendon, this looks interesting!

As an aside, I added Brendon to my Flickr Photostream a couple of days ago. Two viewers noticed that his eyes were different tones. This was partly due to some side lighting, but my processing accentuated it. I have corrected it (I hope) in this image.


Free (#834) 04-14-15

“Your name is Free?”



“Yeah, like 'buy one, get one'.”

I recently photographed a lady named Five, so why not a young man named Free?

sat at an outdoor table, sipping my coffee. Free was walking by and noticed the camera. He pointed and said, “Are you a photographer?” Impressed by the astute observation, I suppressed the urge to come back with a smart alack answer. “Yes, I'm an amateur street portrait photographer.”

Free was looking for a photographer to record musicians performing. He does Hip Hop, without foul language. Immediately he had his phone to my ear, playing his music. Sure enough, it sounded like Hip Hop, and sure enough, I heard no naughty words. I asked if he knew of Dylan Cox (Stranger #178 https://www.flickr.com/photos/bobdeinphoto/9201707349/in/set-72157627425474507 ) He did not. I explained that Dylan did work for Sarasota Music Now and might be perfect for the project. Dylan has a Facebook page, but Free has an account and doesn't use it. Free found Dylan and “Friended” him.

Free wants to cut a CD and needs about $8,000 for the project. I suggested that a vigorous social media presence would be good. He was not familiar with Kickstarter, a platform for crowdsourcing – raising money from fans. He wants to raise the 8k locally, and then work on social media. Hmmm...

Free is a Sarasota native. He hasn't attended school since the 10th grade, and is now raising himself: hence the name Free. He smiled constantly and looked, well, free.


Laura (#833) 13-04-15

Laura was sipping a cup in front of my spot: Pastry Art. Her hair caught my eye, and I told her so. A bit reluctant at first, she was reassured when Nick, the cop, walked by and said, “Hi, Bob.” Laura said that apparently I wasn't a mass murderer, and agreed to be photographed. Actually, she was very agreeable and interesting. She is from 'all over', including North Carolina, Tennessee, Oregon, and a few other choice spots.

She moved to Sarasota three years ago and set up an outpatient practice; Laura is a psychiatrist. When I told her that I was a reformed (retired) pathologist, we had quite a bit to talk about. Laura invited me to the weekly meeting of the “Do Nothing Club” at another coffee shop. I plan to give it a try.

As often, I shot two quick bursts of 3-5 images. Blinking, therefore, is a non-issue. And sometimes (like here) there are micro gestures that change over a second or two. These were all shot within two seconds. The first is my favorite.


Tara and Michael (#832) 04-11-15

They were sitting near the road, a spot usually too bright for portraiture. But as I approached them, Michael was in perfect light, and Tara even had a little rim lighting as a bonus. Tara was all for being photographed. Michael was reticent at first, but after talking for a minute, he opened up and became quite friendly.

They are visiting from Westchester County, NY. It is a 30 minute restful train ride into Manhattan, where they go to school. Living in Westchester County is MUCH cheaper than Manhattan. Tara attends Fordham University, and is unsure of her future career path. Michael goes to the Cardozo School of Law. He has a background in the sciences and plans to practice patent law.

Tara's father was a professional photographer, photographing ballet performances in the 80s. In the early 70s, he was taking some practice shots in Central Park. He got numerous images of a mime doing his thing. A few years later the Mork and Mindy show aired. He recognized Robin Williams as the mime. After Robin Williams died, he resurrected the images that now had value. One was printed in Rolling Stone magazine. How about that?


Bronson and Merissa (#831) 04-10-15

They were sitting at a table next to the sidewalk at Smokin' Joe's bar. The light is consistently good at this location, so I almost always check it out. As I approached, the first thing that caught my eye was the edge of Merissa's hair. The second thing was the cell phone up to her ear. Arrggg! But it went away quickly. I wouldn't say that they were anxious to be photographed, but they didn't resist. Merissa explained that the previous day (Easter), they had celebrated heartily, and were not feeling 100% at the moment.

Merissa is a water rat. As a child, the family lived in Connecticut, and used boats for a few months a year. They moved to Florida so that they could expand that to 12 months. Merissa remembers the boat brand, Formula, which is very fast and has a nice cabin forward. They sold it to Merissa's dismay. She wants them to get another one, now that she “can drink wine too!”

She used to work for a radiology office in Venice. I worked in a lab a few blocks away, and we knew several of the same people. Now she works in a salon in Sarasota.

Bronson told me his name, and I said “Brandon?” “No, Bronson, like Charles Bronson.” I won't forget that. He liked his pictures and insisted that I send him copies. Then he said, “Let's get this one!”, and gave the flex pose. How could I not?


Lauren and Laura (#830) 04-08-15

Lauren was in the doorway of a clothing store in Winter Park, FL. Her flower crown, general good looks, and dark background was perfect. As was her personality. She was eager to be photographed and was a great sport. She said, "There is another girl who models better than me."

A minute later, Laura walked by. When I heard her name, I said "Laura and Lauren, are you putting me on?" The assured me that they weren't. And sure enough, Laura assumed this pose with no prompting. Methinks that Laura has seen a camera before.

I passed by the store a little while later, and both of them had shed their flowers. Timing is everything.


Fatima and Sarena (#829) 04-06-15

Fatima (Fat EE mah) and Sarina were eating outside, in front of Whole Foods. They were joking and laughing, perfect prospects in a perfect mood. Both were eager to help.

Fatima was born in Cornwall, England, and came to the U.S. When she was five or six. She has absolutely no accent. We joked about that for a minute, about how most Brits talk funny. Her curly hair is naturally so, and shook vigorously when she laughed.

Sarina's hair was hard to miss. A black and white image just didn't get it. She was from California, and her parents moved here to get warm. What? California is supposed to be a warm state! “Not in the northern part”, Sarina said. When I commented on her hair, she said that the color changed. It started as turquoise, but changed to green as it faded. I'll keep that in mind for when I dye my hair turquoise.


Ana and Al (#828) 04-06-15

Al owns three businesses in Massachusetts, including a la firm and real estate company. His e-mail address includes 'law', so I suppose that law is dearest to his heart. He is SO happy to be in Sarasota. “We (in Massachusetts) had a terrible winter. And the highs will not get out of the 50s in April.”

Sitting with Al was Ana. She is from the Ukraine and has a delightful, and heavy, accent. She has lived in Germany, Italy, Texas, and a few other states that I didn't write down. She travels, looking for the best place to live. So far, Sarasota is it. Ana has family in the Ukraine who are in some danger.

I photographed Ana first. They both liked the results. Then I turned to Al and said, “Now let's see if I can make you look as good as Ana.” That brought 20 seconds of laughter and self deprecation.


Gloria (#827) 04-05-15

A lady was playing an outdoor piano, part of the Sarasota Keys project. Several highly decorated pianos are at busy street corners, anyone can sit down and play. One is in front of the Clasico bar and restaurant. It's great for the owner, it is amazing how many good musicians sit down and entertain the Clasico customers.

Well, this lady, Gloria, also sang. She sang soulful music with great feeling. I left a few dollars on the piano and waited for a break, to speak with her. Gloria is 64 and has been playing since age 10. A Sarasota native, she attended the Ringling College of Art and Design for a couple of years. Her goal is to resume her studies there and get a degree.

I asked where she worked. Gloria indicated the West Coast Center, with which I was unfamiliar. It is an unassuming building that I pass every day. It houses a church and a school, The West Coast School for Human Development. Gloria said that the few dollars that I left would be donated to the school. I immediately scooped it up and replaced it with a 20.


But she wasn't finished. In the late 80s, she found out that she could paint. Found out? She now sells her fine arts portrait paintings in northern Sarasota. A lady of many talents.

Before I left, she played and sang two Gospel songs. Again, her skills are not so much the technical playing, but the soulful feeling that she puts into the pieces.


Jennifer and Jordan (#826) 04-03-15

I was inside a coffee shop when a man in a wheelchair was about to enter. I jumped up to hold the door open just as a young woman outside helped open it. We made eye contact as the man came in. I went to sit outside and the lady, Jennifer, was with Jordan at the next table. When I approached them for a portrait I was surprised that she was reticent. But after a couple of seconds that seemed like hours, Jordan shrugged and said OK.

They are both from Akron, OH. Jennifer lives here now and works for Charles Schwab. Jordan still lives in Akron and was visiting the area. He is a teacher and hates finance. Jennifer started to apply lip gloss, but I told her that the image would be in black and white. She assured me that moisture was necessary anyway. After I got a few shots she was pleased. Jordan didn't pass judgment. After photographing Jordan, Jennifer really liked the results, but again, Jordan was noncommittal. Jennifer was expressive, Jordan, stoic.

Suddenly she jumped up and stepped into harsh sunlight. She wanted me to photograph her is sunlight, as that “makes my eyes bluer.” I assured her that the shade was better. Jordan got behind her and she said (giggling) that it was like a pre-nup picture. I said, “Oh, you've met before.” She giggled, “Yeah, somewhere”. After getting a few shots, I said, “Let's have some fun.”

I asked Jennifer to keep her eyes on me, and Jordan to get behind Jennifer's ear. Then I said, “Whisper something personal, that I should not be allowed to hear.” Immediately I depressed the shutter button (in continuous shooting mode) and held it for several seconds.