Two weeks ago, something crazy happened to me. I was shot by a stranger.
With an instant camera, that is.
Here’s how it went down: It was a super sunny, late afternoon. It was also the same day I was shooting our Camera in a Minute: LC-A+ video for Lomography. I went outside to shoot some B-roll for the video, and as I was concentrating on holding my FlipCam steady, I saw out of the corner of my eye that someone was watching me. Through a viewfinder.
I panned over to the person and as soon as I did, he snapped a picture of me with his vintage Polaroid Land camera. At that moment, I kind of laughed and said hi because, well, what else can you really do in that situation?
It was when the camera began printing the photo that I recognized the photographer. Earlier that day, he had come into the store with his friend to look at the cameras. Still a bit confused as to why he took a picture of me in the first place, he then asked me to take a photo of him. He then explained to me that he was doing a personal project where he connects with strangers by first taking a shot of them and then has them take a photo of him in that same space. After the photos have printed, he takes them both, rips them down the middle, and exchanges them with the other person—thus sharing a moment with that stranger.
So here’s how my half turned out:
After he gave me the two half-photos, we exchanged names and I learned that his name was “Chendrum” (Chendrum, if you’re reading this, please forgive me because I probably spelled that wrong). We only talked briefly but the whole experience, although short, made my day and reminded me of how great the simple things are. It also reminded me of a “The Way I See It” quote I saw on a Starbucks cup way back:
Too often, I go through my day without giving a thought to any of the people I walk past on my way to Lomography. The GO-Train, although full of people every morning, is always silent. Union station is the same. It’s always packed with buzzing people but nobody’s talking to anyone. Maybe it’s not the right environment. Maybe it’s the not the right timing. But when is there ever a perfect opportunity to get to know someone? We’re more connected than we think and if we wait around, the moment will pass before our eyes. So just like how Lomography says, Don't think! Just Shoot, I challenge you to take the same approach. If you want to meet someone, start a conversation. Say hi to the people or just smile at them! Chendrum made me remember that it’s the small things that make a difference and that sharing is caring. So thank you Chendrum, for taking that unexpected picture of me.
So don’t be afraid to reach out. The only thing separating two strangers from becoming friends is having the courage to say “hi”. It’s that simple. We’re all human and chances are, you’ll probably make someone elses day just like how Chendrum did for me.