I am starting two long term street photography projects that I have been thinking about for sometime, The $2 Portrait and 100 Strangers. The details aren't important but in sitting up the Flickr set for the 100 Strangers Project I made some notes on a photograph that I stuck in just to be able to develop the set. The notes got me to thinking about photographing strangers. I know what I get out of photographing people but I don't often think about what the person I photograph might get out of it.
I have told this story before, but after Ike, no electricity, Janet and I ate out one or two meals every day. One of those was at a Denny's on I-45 that we do not usually frequent. Our waitress that night was a young lady named Carissia. She ask me about my camera and very unlike me, I ask if I could take her photograph to which she agreed. It was nothing special, pop up flash, didn't even stand up from the table. But the photo came out fair so I had a 4x6 made and took it back to her a few days later.
Her reaction was a little nervous, I think she laughed, so truthfully I thought she didn't like the photograph. That was no surprise. People often don't like the photographs I take of them even when I feel that that are quite good. Hey, I don't like the photographs that I take of me so how can I complain.
However, when Janet was in the hospital last month I stopped at a Denny's near the hospital on 1960 for breakfast. I was greeted by a young lady grinning from ear to ear with, "You are the fellow who took my photograph." It was Carissia. But the surprising part was that she was carrying in her wallet the 4x6 photograph which she immediately whipped out to share with everyone. At the time I didn't think much about it but in looking back it appears that the photograph really meant something to her. I am absolutely positive that she was not carrying it the last six months on the chance that she would run into me again. That made me feel good.
It also makes me question whether or not there are other people that don't normally get their photograph made that would like to have a photograph of themselves, even one of mine. Carissia has given me considerable encouragement for my new projects.
Sometimes you just never know.