I made it a 2012 New Year’s Resolution to “Learn to fearlessly approach strangers” so that I could photograph these peculiar persons whom I know nothing about. But for the time being, I can sum up a few shots I’ve managed to get away without being noticed.
Strangers are an amusing curiosity. I’ve always been the kind of person that wishes to know what it’s like to be in someone else’s shoes. How do these people we know nothing about see their lives? The only thing we can do is talk to them and find out their story. But for those of us who are not brave enough to strike up a conversation, taking a picture to retain their memory will suffice.
I saw this man as I was walking the streets of Old San Juan in my beautiful island of Puerto Rico. It was the first time I had ever seen him sitting down in the middle of the road playing his accordion. The setting was perfect and he couldn’t have been in a better position to be taken a picture of. I got on my knees hoping he wouldn’t notice, since he was so into his playing. I set the focal distance on my trusty LC-A+ and snapped away.
In the summer of 2010 I made a trip to NYC with my family. One day at Washington Square Park, while I was watching the little kids play in the fountain, I saw a girl, who was simply sitting there in the edge of the fountain. I don’t know wether she was contemplating the children as was I, or if she was simply in a state of meditation, because I could not see her face. But to me, the sight was beautiful. I didn’t want to disturb her, and my girlfriend at the time was there as well, and I don’t think she would’ve liked it if I approached a random pretty girl and ask her for her picture. So I silently stood behind here, with a fair distance so she wouldn’t notice me or hear the shutter. I used the 70-210mm zoom that was attached to my Nikon N6006. I composed the shot, and pressed the shutter. To this day, this is one of my favorite pictures.
On that same trip to New York City I visited Central Park. It was a lovely day and music was everywhere! Underneath one of the many bridges, was a lonely man playing the saxophone. The melodies that were coming out of his instrument were beautiful and the resonance of the bridge made it sound magical. Since I had my LC-A+ on me I simply set the focal distance, pressed the shutter and walked away. But thanks to that I always have the memory of his mesmerizing music within my reach.
Another time, back home in the west side of the island, I went to a beach with a few friends of mine while testing a color negative film in an old Yashica Mat 124-G that was lent to me. I saw these two fishermen who were minding their own business in a patient way. The place was somewhat lonely and they didn’t seem like people I would normally trust, so I didn’t want any trouble in case they would turn around and catch me taking a random photo of them, so I decided to approach them and ask them if it was alright with them that I take a picture of the setting with them included in the photo. Surprisingly they didn’t seem to mind and told me it was fine by them. So I took one shot with the Yashica, and another shot with my Minolta SR-T 102.
One day I was at a music festival and I saw these older women who were having such an incredibly fun time dancing with themselves that I just couldn’t help but take a picture of them. They were so full of life, despite the ups and downs their years must’ve brought them… I remember they noticed me and smiled, and kept on dancing.
And last but not least, the best strangers to take photos of are animals! This is especially if you’re the shy kind of person, because you don’t even need to ask permission—unless they’re accompanied by their owners, in which case you can find your way around.