Diego (#938) 11-28-15

When I saw the dreadlocks and the body language, I thought, “This must be an artist.” The light was way too contrasty, so I followed at a distance. Finally I crossed the street, circled around, and 'happened' to meet him in the spot of my choice. Diego seemed curious, and was happy to be photographed.

Diego is from Spain and is in his senior year at the Ringling School of Art and Design. I was right!

“What kind of art do you make?”

“Painting, video, photography.., art is art.”

When I wanted to move him a bit, he said, “You are the artist, do what you want.” He really liked my photostream. After graduation, Diego will return to Spain.

“What will you do?”

'Live life. Who knows what will come.”

Nice to be able to have that attitude. Attending a school costing north of $50,000\year, he probably has the resources to take life as it comes.

Thank you, Diego, for allowing me to photograph you for my ongoing portrait project.


Iris (#937) 11-08-15

Iris was reading on an outdoor bench in Winter Park, FL. As I was asking my usual favor, it was obvious from body language that she was willing to be a part of my portrait project.

“Are you from Winter park?”

“Oh no. I live in Castleberry (2 miles away).”

Originally from Reading, PA, Iris maintains a slight Spanish accent; her father was from Puerto Rico. She is a realtor, but primarily a buyer's broker. Iris obtains few listings. She spends a lot of time with prospective buyers, showing other people's listings all over the Orlando area. The market has improved, but certain frustrations continue. She has clients who make an offer on a $200,000 house, but the deal falls through over $3,000. such a tiny percentage!

Of all the pics on the LCD, she preferred the slightly sultry look.

Thank you, Iris, for allowing me to photograph you for my ongoing portrait project.


John (#936) 11-06-15

A candy and ice cream store sat on a street corner in Winter Park, FL. John was seated immediately outside, enjoying a smoke. “They let me stay here because the owner smokes too.”

About a year ago he allowed an artist to paint his portrait at this very spot. Several months later, a man said that he had bought the painting at the Winter Park Art Festival. It had won first place in some category.

John said, “I hope you didn't pay too much for it.”


He said that he could not see his picture on the camera's LCD because of severe cataracts. His eyes looked clear to me, no cataracts. But I saw him walking a few minutes later and John was clearly sight impaired. Maybe macular degeneration.

Thank you, John, for allowing me to photograph you for my ongoing portrait project.


Bianca (#935) 10-27-15

As I paid for an image to be framed, Bianca looked for a bag large enough. I said, "Gee, Michael's has lots of large bags." (for those out of the U.S., Michael's is chain store offering cut-rate framing and matting). Bianca put her hands on the counter and gave me a withering look.

"Michael's: where art goes to die."

That was definitely my best quote of the week.


Joe (#933) 10-20-15

When walking past Starbuck's (no coffee this time!), Joe was enjoying his cup of, well, Joe. When I explained the project, he had no reservations.

Joe is an engineer working for the army – as a civilian. He has degrees in industrial and mechanical engineering, but now writes software. That seems to be the common pinnacle for so many careers. Well educated, he has degrees from the University of Central Florida, and Texas A & M. Plus he has studied at FSU, the arch enemy of Florida Gators like me.

“What is the best thing that has happened to you today?”

Sitting here with this cup of coffee.” (It was about 3PM.)

“Gee, you've had a pretty dull day.”

“I spent all morning mowing the grass and cleaning the house. A few minutes alone with a good cup of coffee is definitely the high point.”

Sometimes the simplest things in life are the best.

Thank you, Joe, for allowing me to photograph you for my ongoing portrait project.


Oksana (#932) 10-20-15

She was working in a clothing store in Winter Park, FL. Looking so photogenic, I immediately made contact, and she was game, although a little shy.

"Are you from Winter park?"

"Oh no. I am from Longwood."  (6 miles away)

When I heard her name, she assured me that she was not Russian. I mentioned Olympic figure skating champion Oksana Baiul. "Yep, that's who I'm named after."


Herbert (#931) 19-10-15

I recently visited Winter Park, FL. I was about to check out of the hotel, but decided to walk a block to their Saturday morning Farmer's Market. Things were packed, so I neglected to carry the camera. Stooopid!

A small produce stand was situated in decent light, and the proprietor had such a relaxed countenance that he exuded peace and serenity. Now I had to return to the hotel double-time to correct my mistake. When I returned, he was speaking with two ladies. I waited my turn, but it became obvious that Herbert was at the market to socialize as much as sell produce. When I introduced myself, his calm demeanor was a balm, and I understood why people stop by to talk.

Herbert has had that location in the market for 32 years. I pointed to the mustache and said, “I'll bet that has changed a bit.” “Oh yes sir, My appearance has changed a lot over 32 years.” An African American lady walked in, and on a hunch I asked if he had ever seen her before. “Oh yeah, we've been married for 61 years.”

Sixty one gracious years, I believe.

Thank you, Herbert, for allowing me to photograph you for my ongoing portrait project.


Jim (#930) 10-12-15

On my way to the coffee shop, I found an angle parking spot half a block away. A car pulled in to the next spot simultaneously. As we both got out our eyes met and I saw the glorious mustache. Following a few steps behind, he obliged me by stepping into the coffee shop; all I had to do was follow. While on line, I introduced myself and made “the ask.” Jim was surprised, but totally cooperative and friendly.

Jim is originally from Syracuse, NY. He worked for Chrysler Corp., manufacturing drive trains and trans axles for Chrysler, Ford, GM, BMW and others. I had no idea that the other companies bought drive trains from Chrysler. Jim and his wife began Vacationing on nearby Siesta key in 1986. Nine years ago he retired and made the full time move.

We spoke while still indoors. I asked him to step into the doorway while I held it open. The geometry wasn't exactly as I preferred. I wound up outside, holding the door open with my foot, while Jim was a few steps inside. Sometimes you just have to work with what you get.

Thank you, Jim, for allowing me to photograph you for my ongoing portrait project.


Dayle and Kristen (#929) 10-06-15

After parking in a high rise lot, I descended the stairs to a plaza that included Buddy Brew Coffee. But I didn't even get there. Dayle was sitting on a couch right in front of my favorite charcoal grey wall. Perfect spot. Having not approached a stranger for a few weeks, I felt awkward.

When I explained the project, she immediately agreed, but was curious about my intent. The Photostream on the phone helped. And I explained that it was more about getting out of my comfort zone than photography.

Dayle is from Nassau County, New York. She had been back twice in recent weekends and remembers shoveling snow vividly. She is now a realtor on nearby Longboat Key. Dayle did not particularly like my first images, so I let her pose herself however she wanted. I don't think that the two looks are all that different.

As we spoke, her friend Kirsten walked up. She expressed no reservations about being photographed, and changed places with Dayle. Like Dayle, she did not like the first pics, so I let her pose herself too. They took cards and asked for a digital copy of the images.

Thank you, Dayle and Kristen, for allowing me to photograph you for my ongoing portrait project.


James (#928) 09-26-15

On a rainy day, I entered my favorite coffee shop. Several tables on the sidewalk are covered by umbrellas, but I chose to sit inside. Until James came in. He had a backpack and seemed out of place, and uncomfortable. After placing his order, he found a table outside fairly protected from rain. So I went out to meet him with a plastic bag for the camera, if necessary.

James is originally from Birmingham, AL, but now lives near Destin, in the Florida Panhandle. He is an architect working for the St. Joe Company. For many decades it was the St. Joe Paper Company. It owned a zillion acres of forest that it harvested for paper. Now it is a real estate development firm. James says that the goal is to eventually build 170,000 houses in five communities.

I commented that this sounded like the nearby Lakewood Ranch. A planned community popped out of nowhere and now is a center for retail activity. “Lakewood Ranch isn't my favorite. There is too much control, it's not authentic.” He used to live in Sarasota and watched Lakewood Ranch being developed first hand.

He approved of the images, especially the contemplative look. But he did not want a copy.

Thank you, James, for allowing me to photograph you for my ongoing portrait project.


Max (#927) 09-07-15

I have been "off the streets" for a while, for personal reasons. The time has arrived to become productive again.

During this sabbatical, I have photographed a few baristas and waitpersons, while obtaining little personal information. Max works at a restaurant that I visit fairly frequently. Although there is a large staff, max always seems to get stuck with me.


Gunner and Jan (#926) 08-12-15

As I passed a restaurant on Main St., Gunner and Jan were on a bench in front of a restaurant. His expression caught my eye. I had never photographed in this spot, but the light looked acceptable, and Gunner's face was more than acceptable. So I made the ask. The response was positive, but lukewarm. Jan was into it more than Gunner.

He said that his portrait would break my lens, I've heard that before. He moved here from Mass., but would not say where he was born. Jan tried to egg him on, but Gunner was not talkative. After I got the shot, Jan agreed, but would only give me a camera smile. They both live in the same apartment building.

In the past, I would not have posted these images. I wrote the entries for the 100 Strangers Flickr group, which requires more story (in my opinion), than Gunner and Jan. But that all changed about a month ago.

I got a surprise notice from the group moderators. I had about 670 entries, another fellow had nearly 800 and a woman from Finland had a staggering 1,200. The moderators felt that we were posting too much and not developing as photographers, and that is the mission of the group. So I have been politely barred from posting in that group. At first I was surprised and disappointed. But in a way this is liberating. I feel free to photograph anyone I want and give as little or as much as the case warrants.

Thank you, Gunner and Jan, for allowing me to photograph you for my ongoing portrait project.


Hayley (#925) 08-10-15

At noon on a Sunday, I parked in a high rise garage, crossed the street and headed to Giuseppe's Ristorante. I had photographed Giuseppe a few years ago. https://www.flickr.com/photos/bobdeinphoto/8083805112/in/album-72157627425474507/

Alas, it was closed for lunch on Sundays. Drat! So I headed back toward the garage and passed “Old School Bar and Grill, a Music Joint.” It looked a little rough, but how rough could a place be at noon on a Sunday? So I went in to the dark, noisy establishment and had a decent taco salad. More importantly, I met Hayley.

She was my waitress, and as soon as I saw her I mentally kicked myself in the rear end for not carrying the camera. But it was in the trunk of the car, 90 seconds away. When I finished and Hayley asked if there were anything else I wanted, I said “Yes”, and explained how I wanted to meet her and make a portrait. I showed her my photostream on the phone and she was quite impressed with the lighting. A mature observation. So I settled up, got the camera, and was back for action. The open doorway into Old School was a good spot.

Hayley was born in Virginia and came to Sarasota at age 11. She went to Bradenton Prep, a now defunct high school. The job at Old School has good hours for Hayley, but this is not a career. She works nights during the week so that she can be home during the day while her husband works. They share duties taking care of their 'very active' 16 month old son. On weekends, the boys have 'guy time' while she works during the day. Hayley plans to be a stay-at-home mom when their second is born (no, she's not pregnant yet).

Thank you, Hayley, for allowing me to photograph you for my ongoing portrait project.


Will (#924) 08-03-15

Back where I belong, sipping Coke (Coke? Too hot for coffee) in front of Pastry Art. Will was perched precariously on a large display window ledge, reading a paperback. He looked serious. But he was very approachable and eager to cooperate.

Will is a native Sarasotan, having graduated from Sarasota High School. He works at the McCurdy's Comedy Theatre and Humor Institute, about a half mile away. I said that it must be nice to work at a comedy venue where patrons won't get drunk and rowdy. “Yeah. Well, usually (smile).”

“What book are you reading?”

Turned the cover over. “Nuclear War and Environmental Catastrophe.”

“Wow! Which do you prefer, comedy or nuclear Armageddon?”

“Both. I'm very dualistic.”

I guess so!

Thank you, Will, for allowing me to photograph you for my ongoing portrait project.


Jordyn (#923) 08-01-15

As I entered Buddy Brew Coffee, another barista (baristess?) was at the counter. After placing my order, I asked if she would allow me to photograph her. “Sure. I've heard that you have been photographing other employees.” Uh oh, the word is out!

Jordyn is from Sarasota, having graduated from Riverview High School 10 years ago. She has held several jobs, but so far Buddy Brew is best.

“Do you see yourself working here indefinitely?”

“Nothing is indefinite. There are lots of things I'd like to do.”

She liked the image and gave me her e-mail address to send it.

Thank you, Jordyn, for allowing me to photograph you for my ongoing project.


Laura (#922) 07-27-15

As I walked by Cafe Clasico, a woman seated in an alcove addressed me. Immediately her light gray hair stood out with the dark background and I was interested. She asked me for financial assistance to spend a night in a shelter. The request was no surprise, but her location at the restaurant was. As usual, I made a 'deal.' Laura was happy to be photographed.

As a child, she lived in Central Islip, NY, just a few miles from where I had lived. Laura has been homeless in Sarasota for 5 years. As we spoke, I slowly realized that I had met, and photographed her before. A couple of winters ago on a cold morning, I met her while she wore a hooded coat. I never saw her hair.

I later went into the restaurant and ordered a bowl of soup. When it came, I told the waiter to take bowl out to Laura, put it on my tab, and not tell her where it came from. A few minutes later the befuddled waiter said that she had already eaten and was no longer hungry. Go figure.

Thank you, Laura, for allowing me to photograph you for my ongoing project.


Then and Now (#921) 26-07-15

I met and photographed Anthony last March. I see him every two or three weeks. The second image is from yesterday. He is proud of how he's 'cleaned up."





Kevin (#920) 07-22-15

Due to oppressive heat, I stayed inside the coffee shop, Pastry Art. Normally I would take an outside table, but this time I sat at a grouping of easy chairs. Close by was a police officer. I introduced myself, the portrait project, and told him that I had photographed only two police officers (later I remembered that the number was four). He smiled and said OK, as long as he didn't have to do anything. I told him that when he finished, I would meet him outside, where the light was flattering.

Kevin has been on the Sarasota Police force for 25 years. I asked if he was a native.

“Oh no, I'm originally from up north.”

“Where up north?”

He looked aside, smiled, and shrugged.

“Is the place so awful that you are embarrassed to say?”

“In my line of work, I am used to asking questions, not answering them.”

This was said with a smile, but I took the cue that more questioning was not a good idea.

A couple of minutes later, he pointed to my camera and asked if it was film. The Olympus OM-D prompts that question so often! I explained that the retro look was a ruse, it was a modern digital camera. Kevin opined that film was probably totally dead, but I explained that there is a niche of photographers who are reviving the use of film. They face stiff headwinds.

Kevin said, “Yeah, film produced shoe boxes of pictures that live under the bed.”

“Yep. Now we take ten times more pictures and print few or none. They never get seen.”

Thank you, Kevin, for allowing me to photograph you for my ongoing project.


Julie (#919) 07-20-15

My friend Brent and I finished with one last stranger. The weather was Hot (with a capital H) and the Buddy Brew Coffee location sounded refreshing. It is located in a covered breezeway with good light, and a breeze. Did I mention it was hot?

One sole young lady was seated drinking her coffee, so I introduced myself and our intent. She looked wary and said, “That sounds kinda weird!” So I further explained and showed her my Photostream on the phone. She reluctantly agreed. Her shirt was wrinkled, but I noticed the word 'Theater'. “Oh yes, I work at the Florida Studio Theater" (one block away).

Julie is from Minnesota, and got a degree in Theater Arts from the University of North Dakota. If one place sounds colder than Minnesota, it's North Dakota. Working at the Florida Studio Theater gives Julie a great source for networking. She hopes to move to the upper east coast or California, where there are more defined seasons.

After she got used to us, she warmed up and was very pleasant. Brent and I was surprised that a theater person would be reticent about being photographed.

Thank you, Julie, for allowing me to photograph you for my ongoing project.