Kate (#633) 08-15-14

Kate was in charge of an olive oil concession. She was born in California, but raised in Sarasota. Kate now attends the Sarasota Military Academy. She was interested in the 100 Strangers project and took my card. In return, she gave me her card, as she is interested in graphic design. See it HERE.

I asked what was the worst thing that had happened recently. She said that the day before, her car had been rear-ended. Well, that IS bad! But the car is still drivable.

It amazes me how many businesses are centered around olive oil. I asked how she could sell enough. Well, this was Mazzone Olive Oil, the olives grown in a specific grove in Italy: See it HERE. Kate assured me that it is very popular with salads and breads, especially when seasoned with Tuscan Basil. So, I tried some. I liked it and bought a bottle. Confession: I like olive oil, but am far from a connoisseur.

After dutifully assuring me that she was not photogenic, Kate allowed the portrait.


Kento (#622) 08-10-14

I paid a visit to the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts, in Tampa. See it HERE. Kento was manning the front desk. His appearance immediately interested me and I let him know. He had no reservation about being photographed.

Kento was born in Japan and came to the U.S. During elementary school. He has no accent – none. Kento is now a junior at the nearby University of South Florida, majoring in photography. Although keeping his options open, Kento is drawn to fashion photography.

I said that with my interest in portraiture and his in fashion photography, we had a natural common hero, Richard Avedon. Kento had heard of Avedon just the previous month, and was currently reading about him.


Kabrena (#621) 08-08-14

Kabrana's hat caught my eye, and I followed her through a crowd for a while. Finally we came to a relatively unpopulated spot that hat acceptable (not great) light and background. I approached her and said that her hat had panache. “Panache, I LIKE that!”, she replied.


Kabrena was very friendly and outgoing. She was born in Sarasota and graduated from Booker High School, which specializes in visual and performing arts. Kabrena majored in dance. She graduated from the University of Florida and moved to New Orleans. But she returned to Sarasota two years ago and is about to begin a Masters Program in Speech Pathology.


Joe and Alex (#620) 06-13-14

Actually there is no Alex, but there was originally. As I walked on a main street, the sidewalk went through outdoor seating for a restaurant. Joe and Alex were eating, and their body language suggested that they were having a good time. I sometimes approach people outside of a coffee shop, or ice cream parlor, but I have not stopped people from eating a full meal at a restaurant. Besides bad manners, I am afraid that the proprietor will think that I am harassing patrons. Maybe I would be.

But a few minutes later, they were on a bench about 100 yards away. So I met them and made my request. Joe was very outgoing and animated – he was all for being photographed. Alex (female) was pleasant, but quiet and reserved. I showed her the images on my cell phone and she seemed interested. Joe said, “I'll go first.” I positioned him in front of an open door and fired away. He was a jokester, no way to get a serious look. Joe studied plastics engineering for two years at Penn State. Now he is saving money so that he can finish his degree at The University of South Florida, or Central Florida.

Then when I turned to Alex, she said that they had to go, as they had a date with her parents. I said, “Not even 30 Seconds?” Joe cut in and said, “We really have to be going.” Apparently Alex gave him some sign (that I had missed) and Joe was protecting her wishes. Darn!


Andrea (#619) 06-12-14

I saw Andrea at a local Farmer's market, not the one that I usually frequent. Her free-spirit gait and Bohemian dress caught my eye. Especially the hat. When I caught up to her, she had no problem with being photographed.

She is originally from Tampa, but went to Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh for a degree in Fine Arts. She has now been in Venice for a year. Andrea's art is graphics and overlying pastels, and is up to eight feet on a side. Her website is interesting (and not always safe for work). The provocative description of her current project gives you an idea.

“Current project: Senior Studio

This past year I have created a variety of projects that deal with the human and it's body, gender, alternate persona, and technology. Savoring the visceral union of meat and metal; relishing the taste of flesh and machine; thirsting for blood and digital consciousness; my work ranges from mythological to metallic camp in its worst form...” Her website is HERE.                 

But to put food on the table, she works at a local high-end Italian restaurant. Andrea was at the market, in part, because her boyfriend had a booth, a headgear company called “Bambooty.” Neat name. I vowed to get his portrait, but he was always swamped with customers and I did not get a chance.

I really liked this image and did more work on the background than usual to make a cohesive (I hope) color palette.


Makena (#618) 06-11-14

Busted! Another portrait of an ice cream shop employee. This time it's in Marco, FL. Makena was as bubbly a personality as you'd ever want to meet. And why not, she had graduated from high school three days earlier!

She attended St. John Neumann High School in nearby Naples. Nearly a year earlier, a friend of her mother suggested St. Mary's College, in Notre Dame, Indiana. How Catholic is that? They had never heard of it, but the more they read, the more they liked. And when Makena visited the school, it was love at first sight. So this fall, off she will go. She wants to do teaching and counseling for disadvantaged students.

Makena loves cats. Her mother volunteers for a group that collects and neuters feral cats in MARCO. Amazingly, we were with a woman who does the same thing, in Naples. Small world.


Another Chris (#617) 06-10-14

Chris was reading at an outdoor table, next to Starbucks. Yeah, he had coffee. I had to notice the haircut, the sides were almost shaved. When I asked him for a portrait, Chris was soft spoken and courteous. He agreed, but was not too interested in the concept of the project.

Chris will soon graduate from Edison Community College, and will have an Associate of Arts degree. Edison is in the process of converting from a two year school to four year. Most, if not all, community colleges in Florida are undergoing that transformation. Chris wants to continue his studies, but would like to go elsewhere. His goal is to study Psychology at the nearby Florida Gulf Coast University.

I don't use the Spot Healing Brush Tool too much, especially for men. But Chris was an exception. When I got a close look at the images on the computer screen, it was obvious that the aforementioned haircut had been very recent. There were over a dozen tiny hair fragments on his face. :-)

The color vs black and white conundrum continues. I'll occasionally post images processed both ways.


Linda (#616) 06-09-14

We met Linda in the Devine Diva Boutique, she was the owner. And she is a Brit. Her sister has two boutiques in England, and sends Linda stock. So instead of touting “Made in America”, her clothing is all “Made in England”.

Linda is a character and shared a couple of politically incorrect jokes. She moved from England to Minnesota 39 years ago. For 24 years Linda was a nanny in Minnesota and loved the work, but finally she just could not take the cold anymore. So she had to make a choice, hurricanes in Florida, or earthquakes in California. Obviously she chose hurricanes.


Kristen (#614) 06-08-14

I was on the main drag in Naples, Fl, heading for Starbucks. At the storefront before, Kristen was seated, with her coffee, on the cell phone. Have I ever mentioned how people's cell phones complicate my life? So I got my cup of Joe, came back, and she was still yakking. I really liked her look, so I just orbited the area for a few minutes until I got my chance. When she pulled it from her ear, I immediately 'asked for a favor' before she had time to dial again.

Kristen was more than happy to be photographed. She was from Buffalo, and in town for a wedding. It was still cold back home, so she stayed for a week. Smart! She is a Mary Kay (cosmetics) salesperson. I asked if she drove the company pink Cadillac. She said no, that she had yet to achieve that status. She had a company Chevrolet Equinox. At the next promotion she would get a BMW, and THEN the pink Cadillac. That's quite a line up – the BMW isn't top dog!

Then I saw what I had missed previously, the cell phone was pink. She turned it around, the back had the Mary Kay logo.


Tom (#613) 06-07-14

On a side street in Ft. Myers, Tom appeared to be on break from work, so I checked out the adjacent possible places of employment. Ah, he was right next to a tattoo parlor, Downtown Ink. Yeesss! And he did have a few tattoos. But when I introduced myself and the project, he looked sheepish and said, “No, not me.”

I was amazed. So without pausing, I showed him the cell phone with my faces, and his face lit up. “Oh cool! Where do you want me to stand?” A quick turnaround indeed. He grinned and laughed when I told him that tattoo parlors are good hunting grounds for the 100 Strangers project. It was a big day for Tom, he had just gotten his tattoo apprentice certificate. This lead to the second shot. The third is of is his forearm, with the lovely giant squid attacking a ship. I hope Tom likes that when he's 60. This is a side job for Tom, mostly because he likes art in general, and tattoos specifically.

But in his other life, Tom is a senior at Florida Gulf Coast University. His major is computer science. Already, he has an internship lined up at Florida International University, in Miami. Not the exact stereotype tattoo artist! After the shaky start, Tom was very outgoing and clearly enjoyed the encounter.


Chris (#612) 06-06-14

We were at a fairly large medical center with a VERY large parking lot. Some patients have difficulty walking, so the facility provides a golf cart with driver to cover the distance from a parked car to the front door. The drivers are volunteers, and on this Friday afternoon, it was Chris.

When I approached Chris, he stifled a laugh, he had a hard time taking it seriously. He wasn't interested to see faces on my cell phone. But he did not balk about being photographed. Chris is a native Bostonian, and came to Sarasota in 1984 with stops in Illinois and Minneapolis. I said that he probably didn't miss Minneapolis last winter. Chris rolled his eyes and said that many years ago it was worse. In his senior year in college, the entire month of January the mercury never got above zero. Yeah, that's cold.

While we spoke, no patients needed transportation. I said, “Gee, I hope you don't get laid off.” Most of the time he waits in the lobby to take people back to their cars. Periodically Chris 'makes rounds', driving through the lot to see if anyone needs a ride in. He was not interested in having my MOO card.


Alayna (#611) 06-05-14

My wife and I were walking onto a fishing pier at Ft. Myers Beach. As we went up a ramp. I looked down on a beach bar, the Beach Pierside Grill, getting an aerial view. It had not yet opened, but Alayna was arranging outdoor seating. Her hair caught my eye as it captured the morning sunlight. So, I rearranged my walk and met Alayna.

She seemed a little surprised and reserved, but said yes. Alayna was born and raised in Ft. Myers. She told me how long she had worked at the Grill, but I didn't write it down, and now I forget. :-(

The sun was bright, and as we spoke I was eying a shaded location nearby. When I suggested moving there, she suggested another location, a few yards further. That was nice, and her location was probably better!

I asked Alayna to eschew the “Say Cheese” smile, and she agreed. She said that a big smile made her eyes smaller. Wow, that's some good insight. Perhaps she had been photographed in the past?


Dale (#610) 06-04-14

This one has been in the queue for quite a while. I was a little uncomfortable with the encounter, and I wasn't sure that I would ever post it. But three months have past, and all seems well.

I was with three other photographers on my favorite Sarasota street. With peripheral vision, I saw Dale approaching on a bicycle. We made eye contact and he said “Hello,it looks like some photographers!” I affirmed his observation and said, “Guess what I like to photograph?”, and went through my spiel. Dale was OK with that, but said that he needed something. The local Salvation Army charged $10/night and he needed some money for board (he said this to all four of us.) Dale's presentation was pretty polished.

We made a modest contribution and I got a few shots. When he saw the image on the LCD he said that he needed it for his Facebook page – could I send it to his Facebook account. He doesn't have regular e-mail. I had no problem with the concept, but wasn't sure how to do it. I later looked up his name in Facebook; there are lots of Dale Roberts', but none appeared to be him.

Then Dale “God Blessed” us all, and said that God provides what he needs. He didn't have transportation but God provided the bicycle. He found it that morning, and not finding an owner, assumed that God had given it to him. I had noticed that it seemed small for him, but I looked more closely. It was a nearly new, girl's bike. Hmmm...


Diana (#609) 06-03-14

A few weeks ago I was experiencing my recurring angst about color vs black and white. To me, b&w draws the viewer to the eyes, and emphasizes expression over distracting elements in the frame. But then there's Steve McCurry; his color portraits have only two or three colors, with each color defining a space. And they are so compelling! So I periodically feel that I must give color another try.

Thank you, Diana, you came along at just the right time. I met you in Ft. Myers, and although you were in a hurry, you graciously spared me a few minutes of your time. And you indulged me by moving about 30 yards to find a suitable background. Congratulations on just finishing a singing engagement at the Florida Repertory Theatre. I'm sure that you were a hit! You seemed to approve of your images on the camera's LCD, so I emailed you the files. I'm sure that you enjoy your home in Cape Coral, just across the Caloosahatchee River.

I was pleased that the background color and sweater were so compatible. But still I vacillate; Does the b&w version provide a more powerful representation of Diana's facial gesture?


Peter (#608) 06-02-14

Peter was walking toward me, in Naples, FL. With the Canon DSLR hanging from his neck, I figured that he'd be a good candidate. Plus, something about his look and body language suggested that he was not a local. When I stopped him, he seemed a bit amused, but interested. He was more interested when I showed him my Photostream on the cell phone.

Peter is from Slovakia, REALLY not a local. In retrospect, I am sorry that I didn't ask about the spelling of his name, I might be wrong. I told him that his English was good, but he just rolled his eyes. Peter did have a substantial accent, but he was very easily understood. He was in the U.S. for a three month stint, that was almost over. I asked if he was a student. He laughed and said, “No, I'm 27!”

Peter was very interested in my Olympus OM-D. Surprisingly, when I explained what it was, he was totally unfamiliar with the micro 4/3 concept. He held it and took a few shots. Looking at the LCD, he laughed and said “Oh God, delete these!” He did not feel at all comfortable with the electronic viewfinder.


Linda (#607) 06-01-14

Linda and Jodi (yesterday's stranger) have been friends for 20 years. Linda used to live in Syracuse, NY, and knew Jodi “up north.” Now she has a house in Burnt Store, about 20 miles away (I think). Jodi has been staying in Linda's house for nearly two weeks.

Linda was very infatuated by the 100 Strangers project, and took my MOO card. In retrospect, interest in the project seems to be gender related. Far more women seem interested than men.

For post processing, I have downloaded a trial version of Topaz ReMask. This helps create complicated masks to include hair, etc. My intent is to use it to help 'clean up' backgrounds, not to replace backgrounds with pretty scenes. There is a learning curve, for sure.


Jodi (#606) 05-31-14

I met Jodi and her friend Linda (tomorrow's stranger) In Cape Coral, FL. They were on a bench situated in an alleyway, between stores. There were shafts of late afternoon sunlight parallel to the alleyway, and lots of structure for light reflection. Jody was happy to comply.

She lives near Buffalo, NY, and loves the cold (good thing). Snowmobiles are her passion. She was visiting her friend for two weeks, but had to return the upcoming weekend, as her nephew was about to graduate from Buffalo State University.

Jodi loves the 100 Strangers concept. I showed her the images on my cell phone, and she took my MOO card. I did not get her e-mail address and I feel badly about that. Due to personal circumstances, I am posting this about two weeks after the encounter.


David (#605) 05-30-14

While sitting on a bench in Ft. Myers, David walked by and asked about my camera. This has been a side benefit of the Olympus OM-D E-M5: the retro look catches people's eye and is often a conversation starter. So I told David that despite the look, it's actually quite modern. And then I told him what I like to photograph – people like him. He was happy to cooperate.

David is from Knoxville, TN. Among other things, he was a volunteer fireman. He wanted to move to Florida, but unfortunately made a strategic blunder. He moved 3 ½ months ago on the premise of employment by Sweetbay, a grocery store chain. A month after relocating, Sweetbay was purchased by Winn Dixie, a rival chain, and like magic, David's job evaporated. He has applications in with many businesses within a few blocks of where we spoke. So far, no luck.

So, David is temporarily without a home. I am reluctant to say 'homeless', as that implies a long term situation, which hopefully is not the case. He stayed in a homeless shelter for 30 days, but there is no provision for people to stay longer. Ironically, he said that people with substance abuse problems have programs to house them longer, but with no abuse problem, 30 days is the maximum. David speaks well, and does not sound bitter.

Here is a jazzy forearm tattoo. But notice the wrist band, “Practice Fire Exit Drills.” This was his mantra while a fireman in Knoxville.

Somehow, this just doesn't seem right.


Sue (#604) 05-29-14

I love coffee shops. And I REALLY love coffee shops with neat names – double entendres. So while at a marina, I was infatuated by the coffee shop called “Run Agrounds.” How appropriate is that? Here's the logo.

One look at Sue, the Barista, and I had to have the portrait. And she was all for it! I was thinking color, but the lighting was mixed fluorescent, incandescent, and natural window light. Forget it, the white balance was way too complicated.

Sue is from Rhode Island, and moved to Cape Coral seven years ago. She loves it, especially the nearby beaches. But Sue doesn't get to the beach too often, she works “Pretty much all the time.” She has one son and Grand kids who keep her busy.

“What do you tell your friends back in Rhode Island?”

“C'mon down!”

They don't.


Theresa (#603) 05-24-14

I was at the pool area in The Pink Shell Resort, Ft. Myers Beach. The area was packed, and a singer/guitar player had his amplifier in high gear. The edge of the area was undercover, and in one corner was a room for the towel concession.

I could see Theresa collecting used towels from sunburned guests. I liked the quality of light, if not the quantity. So I set the camera's ISO to 800, and met Theresa. She was happy to be photographed. I was a bit taken aback – she was much younger than I thought, but still a high school graduate. Theresa was born and raised in Ft. Myers. She LOVES her job and has held it for three months. She likes the beach but not direct sunlight, so she works at the beach in shade. How good is that? At one point a guest brought some towels – I stepped behind a pillar until he left. I didn't want to risk Theresa getting into trouble for being distracted from her duties.

Theresa is a smiley person, and it took a little coaxing and patience to get the posted image. The one in the comments is 'her'. I got her e-mail address and sent these images.