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.