I had initially tried to start the ‘100 Stranger’s project back when I first picked up a camera in 2013. But, as I had mentioned before I just didn’t have the balls to approach anybody. Although back then it was mostly to do with the fact that I was still trying to figure out how to actually use a camera never mind asking strangers for a photo!
But I did ask one person. And he said Yes.
I would notice this man walking along a particular stretch of road every single day. I don’t think I ever passed him without a wave. And even though he was local, and very well known, he was still a stranger to me, as we had never held a conversation. But I really wanted to ask him for a portrait, as he looked quite the character, with his flatcap, bushy sideburns and his friendly demeanour. So I plucked up the courage and stopped with him.
I explained to him about the project and asked him would he like to take part, “aye, fire away” he said. Just like that. I couldn’t believe it! And so I started to fumble with the camera trying to get the correct settings, trying to pretend I knew what I was doing! Me being the innocent, clueless, wannabe photographer that I was I asked him to turn towards the Sun! Yes that’s right, I asked him to turn towards the brightest thing in the universe so that it would make him nice and bright, not knowing that it would make him squint, cast harsh shadows across his face, oh and maybe blind him!
But I took the shot anyhow, jumping with excitement inside knowing I had got a stranger to stand for a portrait! We stood on after the photo was taken, and he chatted about his family, I chatted about mine, and our local town, and then I thanked him and let him continue his daily stroll along the Carrickmore Road.
Sadly that was the first and only conversation I ever had with him, for he sadly passed away the following year. Even though I never plucked up the courage to continue on with that particular project at the time, I will always be thankful for him being so easy going and letting me take his photo.
I WILL finish my new project of 100 Faces. And with there being so many places online these days where you can create your own ‘coffee table’ photo book I will most likely create my own book when I have achieved my 100th portrait. And there will be a page in that book for Frank.