A few weeks ago I was set a challenge, to go out on a weekend and take a photograph of a complete stranger. Sounds easy? Nope, not at all, the thought made me feel sick, properly stomach gurgling sick. Every photograph I have ever taken; I think that is true to say; I have chatted on the phone or in person, I have spoken to in depth about what we will do, how and where we will shoot, even got my camera out. I don’t feel comfortable with strangers. I don’t feel comfortable with strangers approaching me in the street, and certainly not photographing me. It’s weird isn’t it? It’s what paparazzi do everyday, but that’s not me.
However, this challenge was set to help raise awareness of MIND, mental health is a cause that is close to my heart, it is an illness that has effected my family significantly. But it is an illness that is not really spoken about, it is not really discussed openly and it is massively misunderstood. I decided that this mini project was a sort of Phototherapy, for me the photographer and possibly for the Stranger. Using photography to express my feelings is the root to my practice, and is present in every photograph I take. The way I see, the way I place someone is personal to me, it is unique, it is a feeling, an expression of the moment, right there. That moment.
So I did it, not once but two and half times. It felt amazing, I managed to approach a total stranger and say, “Excuse me, sorry to bother you but…”
MIND provides advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem. They campaign to improve services, raise awareness and promote understanding.
Stephen Fry, President of MIND, talks about feeling loneliness in this blog post: http://www.stephenfry.com/2013/06/24/only-the-lonely/
One of my photographs was chosen to feature in Photography Parlour blog too >>>Read about the project more here
Taking 10 minutes out to talk to a stranger could change someone’s life forever. And taking a creative risk, getting out of your comfort zone and chatting with a stranger could change yours.