100 Strangers, 1/100: Ansel

I am not a social butterfly. I do not frequently befriend strangers. If given a choice of going to a huge party full of people I don’t know and staying home to read a book, I would usually choose the book.

But if I want to be really good at photographing people, I have to get past my natural reluctance to approach those I don’t know. The 100 Strangers project on Flickr seems like a perfect way to jump far outside my comfort zone and see how it changes me.

I began my project last Sunday. I was participating in a photo walk at the train station, and everyone had gone off to photograph at their own whim. I decided to find my first stranger. I kept thinking to myself, “some people will say no, that’s okay, if you don’t ask you won’t get their photos anyway.” I went to the newsstand and decided to find someone who looked like they were leisurely browsing so I wouldn’t annoy anyone in a hurry. (I am not a fan of street activists who try to get passersby to sign their petitions, specifically because they always try and stop me when I’m clearly hurrying somewhere.)

That’s how I met my first stranger. When I explained my project and asked if I could photograph her, she said sure and joked that she wished she’d been looking at The New Yorker or something impressive. We chatted a bit and I asked her for her first name, as I wanted to be able to attach a name to a face. She told me her name was Ansel. Yes, after Ansel Adams. I’m taking that as a fortunate sign.

For more information on the 100 Strangers project, check out the Flickr group at http://www.flickr.com/groups/100strangers, or go to http://www.100strangers.com.



As I’ve pursued photography in the past couple of years, I’ve used anything and everything mildly interesting as subjects without really thinking about a specific type of photography in which to immerse myself. My depth of field, metaphorically speaking, was f/32. Photography, and this blog, were fun hobbies that lacked the focus and direction necessary to inspire passion.

About a month ago, I realized that portrait photography is where I want to focus. I’ll still photograph anything, but people are my subject of choice. Simple, honest, authentic people pictures.

Thanks to my friends Liz and Andrew (and their cute dog) for helping me get started.

January 17

It’s after New Year. It’s after Old New Year (though not Lunar New Year, at least). It took me long enough, but I finally took the tree down and firmly settled into 2012. Maybe my distaste for early Christmas decorations is balanced by a post-Christmas decorations clinginess.

So long, tree. You were fun. See you in 10-11 months.

Flowers in January


I moved to DC from Minnesota on January 1st three years ago. My dad and I saw some purple and yellow pansies growing in a landscaped square on the edge of the sidewalk. Having just come from a landscape thickly blanketed with snow, we stood and stared and exclaimed over the flowers for quite some time. I now accept that I live in a climate where there are flowers in January. like these roses that I photographed today. It’s a little harder to accept that there isn’t yet snow.

Sunrise on 2012

A few days ago, the idea occurred to me to mark the completion of another journey around the sun by photographing the first sunrise of 2012. I hope 2012 brings you happiness and many moments worth remembering. Happy new year.

At night in black and white


It’s beginning to look a lot like consumerism

Dear Santa,

All I want for Christmas is the chance to properly enjoy Thanksgiving first. Could you please tell your convenience-store elves that November 7th is a bit too early to deck the aisles for the holidays? For one thing, this early commercial holiday spirit makes me feel the need to photograph the madness, which is slowing me down when I just needed to run to CVS for orange juice.

Thanks, and happy not-yet-holidays,