"There are no strangers just people you haven't met yet"
The 100 stranger project is something I heard about earlier this year and as soon as I realized what it was I felt it wasn't for me. The concept is to photograph 100 people that you don't know and have never met before. The whole idea is to get you to step out of your comfort zone and find the nerve to walk up to someone and ask them for their portrait. Even now I don't know if I can do it. Whether it's a fear of looking silly, fear of rejection or just starting something then not having the conviction to see it through. I know the benefits and I have no doubt I will learn a lot from it. It will improve my photography but there will be much that I will learn outside of photography as well. If I managed to photograph one stranger a month it would take 8 years and three months. Who will I be at the end of this, how will it change me and my photography, will the people I meet and photograph change me, what will I learn from them, where will I meet them under what circumstances. What I do know is the thought of it excites me and its a challenge that at the moment I feel very uncomfortable about. So like everything in my life when something scares me, I have to do it. So here we go and as a way of entering it to this gradually here is stranger No 1, Randolph Allan Dobier (the third).
Rudy is from Texas well San Antonio to be precise. As we boarded our flight to Hamburg for new year Rudy happened to be sat in our row. To be fair Carmen starting talking to him first as I put our bags into a overhead locker. I joined the conversation having worked out this Rudy had left the states in his early 20s to work for Abercrombie and Fitch in London. He opened a number of new stores before moving to Hamburg in Germany to open more Hollister stores. He also fell In love with Hamburg and the German ladies (reading between the lines) while working and partying hard. Rudy realized that he loved to travel and in a few short years had travelled to nearly every country in Europe barring Turkey and France. Having to spend a lot of his time recruiting models to work in the stores and mainly being surrounded by beautiful women the stress of the job had taken its toll ( it must have been awful) and it was time to move on. He left Europe for the states and a job in a IT company in Austin. The lure of Europe is still strong however and he had just flown from Austin to Hamburg (via Heathrow) to spend a week over New Year in Hamburg. Everyone you meet has something to teach you and for me Rudy had a few valuable takeaways to pass on.
First even though Rudy worked in Gravesend he decided that he didn't want to live someone convenient for work but wanted to live somewhere convenient for living and enjoying the city. So he lived in Camden and commuted a hour every day. Takeaway No 1 live somewhere you enjoy living and take the pain of a commute. I'm sure 2 years in Gravesend would be nothing to write home about, while 2 years in Camden for someone from Texas, say no more!
I also learnt that Texas is worth a visit. Austin is a fantastic city full of life and culture with a number of big music festivals every year. The city is scattered with cool bars and cafes, a variety of foods and an eclectic music scene. During one of the festival in March they have live music in the bars all over the city. He also talked about opening a beach club in Austin. Essentially in Hamburg during the summer they import tons of sand and create beach clubs along the harbour. The name for Texas's first ever roof top beach bar. Well I proposed Club Dobier but Rudy had the name down already "Rad 3"
As we stepped off the plane at Hamburg I quickly explained my New Years project 100 strangers and our new friend Rudy was happy to oblige. So finally the first lesson of one hundred strangers: there is no strangers just friends you haven't met yet ;-)