Taking portraits isn’t easy. Taking portraits of strangers is even more difficult. Doing that one hundred times seems like a Sisyphean task: finding just the right subject; working up the courage; approaching them; getting rejected; trying with another; getting them comfortable; taking the shot, then another. Endless and repetitive. Many people start projects like the 100 Strangers to try and get some inspiration. Some do it without much thought, as if the mere act of getting the shot is enough to make them good. Some become bored and abandon their projects midway. But a few think (and over think) their project, and they learn from it as they go. The latter is exactly why I’m featuring Jim Darling‘s 100th stranger.
It’s not about the shot itself, which is a good portrait. It’s about the journey and the entire work taken as a whole. If you’ve got some time, go and take a look at the slideshow of all 100 portraits. You can see Jim’s style evolve as he wandered DC and other locales to get the next stranger.
“At #22 I discovered that this project could really be something,” Jim wrote. “And by #44 I was finding that I really cared about the art of the portrait. Granted they weren’t all winners, and sometimes when I thought a location or event would garner something inspiring, it just didn’t quite make it.”
As he shot these strangers’ portraits, Jim also got to be a part of their lives. Sometimes, only for those few minutes that it takes to get the shot, but sometimes he’s become friends with his strangers. Maybe tonight, on your way home or at the bar, you might consider having a brief conversation with a stranger. You never know where it will lead.