Engaging Strangers

One thousand days ago I started posting a single photo (blip) daily to a global site in which users ran journals, attracted friends and became part of a global virtual community.  Getting these 1000 photos (each taken on the day posted) became a passion and I collected over 296,000 views along the way.  Then I started posting my daily alternates to Flickr; in all around 7700 photos which collected over 875,000 views.  In total, about 1.2 million views.  Street photography has been my genre.

One of the themes of my daily journal has been “Engaging Strangers”.  Inspired somewhat by Richard Renaldi’s work “Touching Strangers”, I began approaching people to ask them to pose with another person who was a stranger to them.  Lots of interesting discussions ensued and the results were remarkable.  In this blog, I will share a few of these with you.  (Sorry about all the links which you will need to navigate).

I was in Winnipeg in June 2015 and met Sheila wearing a Coors Light t-shirt; she was immediately interested in the concept and helped me select the stranger she wanted to pose with.  They quickly became friends.  I really loved the energy between the two of them.

Still in Winnipeg, I was at the downtown jazz festival working my project, and this older lady with somewhat arthritic hands said “I would like to do that” and she then posed with two local tattoo artists.  She touched them ever so gingerly.

Back in Waterloo, I met a new arrival from Pakistan having coffee outside the iconic City Café; the baker inside the café gave a warm welcome to this stranger.

The next day found me in Toronto’s Kensington Market where two sisters thought it would be rather fun to have a stranger sit between them.  They gave him a double clutch; he does look a little unenthusiastic about it but he was a good sport.

I met two young Middle Eastern men sitting outside a barber shop in Waterloo; they were waiting for a friend inside.  As we chatted about the stranger project, a young lady walked by and agreed to join them for a pose.  We talked about battles.  Her chest tattoo read:  The Hardest Battle You Ever Have To Fight Is The Battle To Just Be You.

At the Blues Festival in Kitchener, there were plenty of strangers milling about; two young women said they would be happy to oblige me if they could select the stranger.  They found this dapper chap who was more than happy to also oblige but in the process he lost some of his French fries.

Later in the month, I connected with Mike & Suzanne.  I was doing a photoshoot with Suzanne when this Sony wielding stranger wanted to join the action.  A stranger to all of us; Suzanne said “let me set this up” and so she did.

Festivals are great times for photographs and I spotted some great legs at the Craft Beer Festival; the strangers’ legs agreed to pose; I shot the double pair blind with my camera on the ground and did not even notice the onlookers until later.

I was in Victoria Park and encountered two strangers having a Conversation about Jesus; one of them was a street chap and when they posed together he was very tentative and polite.  I think he was honored by the attention the female stranger friend was giving him.

I spend a lot of time on the streets; that is what street photographers do.  One day, I chanced upon a congregation of street friends sitting in a row like in the back seat of an open air church.  One of my favorite shots from this summer.BBB_6812

Finally, here is the link to my 1000th blip posted earlier in the week.  I’m in Mexico trying to beat the Canadian cold.  Later this afternoon I will go out and engage a few more strangers (and friends).


You can see my daily photoblog at http://www.polaroidblipfoto.com/RaspberryJefe and my Flickr photostream at https://www.flickr.com/photos/97184393@N03/


About Al Doerksen

I'm sort of a vocational tramp; my working career divides about evenly between non-profit and the business worlds. I have lived in Mexico, India, Germany and Canada, and now USA. I've had the good fortune to travel to 90 countries of which at least half are developing countries. The last 25 years of my "career" have involved significant (and enjoyable) international management challenges: travel industry, furniture manufacturing, food (aid) programming and ultraviolet water treatment among others. I'm now leading a development enterprise called IDE.
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2 Responses to Engaging Strangers

  1. Congratulation on your 1000 posting with your project Engaging Strangers. It appears to be a great one.

  2. stephnaie says:

    Very cool milestone! Awesome picts and stories.

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