15 Strangers?

Six months ago, I posted about starting my own 100 Strangers project. I decided I’d like to complete it by the end of the year, meaning I would have to get 2-3 strangers a week to accomplish my goal. With only 15 strangers in hand and 3.5 months to go before the end of the year, I can safely say I won’t have 100 before December 31st. Does that mean the project is a failure? If I’m honest, I actually think it’s been a huge success.

When I think about my efforts, the most striking thing is the manner in which progress is made. I’ll be honest when I say asking a complete stranger to take their picture is not an easy thing. Not only do you have to get them agree, you have to find a way to connect with them in a very short period of time to get a halfway decent picture. For me, this usually means “people watching” for an indeterminate amount of time and being perceptive enough to find common ground to connect on. This skill is easier than it sounds, but it requires patience and focus… traits many of us struggle with in our busy lives.

The irony of the project is many of my friends and family like to talk about it, while I don’t. That’s not really true. I like talking about the creative process or the project on the whole, but I don’t like talking about it in the moment. I’ve gotten many suggestions like “that guy would be great” or “you should take their picture” and I’ve found that to be uncomfortable. I understand they’re excited about the project (I’m excited they’re excited!) and want to help, it’s just that I don’t like an audience. For what it’s worth, I can easily take pictures in a crowd but I’m much, much more likely to approach someone if I’m not around anyone I know.

So what’s the future of the project? Well, I fully intend to continue my efforts and get 85 more strangers… I’m just not going to set a deadline. My original one was a bit arbitrary and while designed to motivate me, didn’t mean all that much. Now that I’m in it, and feel committed to the project, I’d much rather take my time and let it happen. In the end, I think it’ll be much better off because of it.

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