Understanding the encounters that are portrayed in Humans of New York show positivity and the encounters of Bruce Gilden portray negativity; I wanted to reduce any subjectivity, take a step back from the camera and become immersed. I stopped strangers on the street and asked to talk to them. My conversation was about social interaction, about how they feel about speaking face to face compared to online. The response was two fold. While some thought that social media was beneficial because of their busy schedules, others saw it as a gimmick that doesn’t portray people effectively. It was interesting to hear both sides of the argument, especially from another generation. Perhaps with social media, face to face social interaction has become more of a challenge with people dedicating less time for talking and more time for texting (because its quicker and archived). I’ve stopped people in the street for their photo before and I’ve noticed it being awkward, not for me, but for them. The gaze of the camera and perhaps my approach were certain contributors, but I think there is a lot of trepidation towards talking to strangers anyway, regardless of the camera. The image and approach was based on my interest of the strangers body language while in conversation, whether they became engaged and open, or stiff and closed. Based on research of Jamie Diamond and Richard Renaldi, I found that the direction of the photographer can make strangers warm to the camera, the photographer and each other. Renaldi particularly stimulated this warmth by touch, each stranger touching in the image.
With the addition of long conversation, then strangers can become friends, and make for more intimate photographs. Like Ben Krewinkel’s project ‘A possible life, conversations with Gualbert’. But to reflect the brief encounter, I wanted to meet people and talk to them in small durations without the camera looking directly at them. This way it reduced my subjectivity, and instead of being about the photograph, we were both concentrated on the conversation. The image making was an experiment to see what people would act like in front of the camera. The image looks awkward. The distance between me and the subject, as well as his stiff pose conveys awkward feeling. This was our conversation and this is what it looked like when each photograph was taken. On reflection, the image looks different to how the conversation felt, but the posture adds a different meaning to the conversation.