Tommy Kha photographs himself receiving a kiss from strangers, friends, lovers, and acquaintances–and not returning it. Hemya Moran approaches individuals in the street, and then enacts private moments in their bedrooms, bathrooms, and backyards, and Jamie Diamond creates staged “family photos” with people she finds on Craigslist. Joy Mckinney touches 74 strangers on the streets of NYC, and George Ferrandi rests her head on strangers in the subway. Explore these stories and more in this guide to photographing strangers.
“Can intimacy be concocted in mere moments or does it take years? Hemya Moran plays with ideas of communion and relationships in her series Intimate Strangers. Approaching individuals in the street, Moran asked them to have an ‘intimate acquaintance with her.’ They then enacted these private moments in a short exchange, resulting in a series that feels simultaneously unnatural and surreally familiar. The viewer must guess at the relationship, left to wonder at the origin and truthfulness of each staged setting.”
“At first glance, New York-based photographer Jamie Diamond‘s family portraits are quite convincing in their conventionality—smiling faces setting up a classic, ready-for-the-wall shot. Yet they are actually staged, and the subjects strangers. Diamond recruits his faux family members in public and on Craigslist, asking them to meet him in rented hotel rooms where he constructs artificial families for the camera. The resulting work explores the public image of family, themes of photographic truth, gender, class, and culture.”
“I am choosing people to photograph regardless of gender, race, and class, and consciously interacting with my environment. The work is an exploration of my history and the ways I have been guarded and chosen to not speak to strangers. I want to explore going against what I believed to be socially correct. I want to translate my compassionate nature and what I feel for the people I encounter, the space we all share together both socially and environmentally.” – Joy Mckinney
Part performance, part photography project, it felt like i knew you explores the space between two strangers on a crowded subway. Brooklyn-based artist George Ferrandi sees this space like a complex made up of societal norms, personal fears and loneliness. In an attempt to break down these barriers between strangers, she awaits the moment when there is a palpable shift in energy, where the stiff and guarded space between two people is reshaped. She then gently rests her head on that person’s shoulder to see what happens next.”
“Photographer Tommy Kha will not kiss you back. In his project, Return to Sender, Kha documents himself receiving a kiss from strangers, friends, lovers, and acquaintances, and not returning it. To what do we owe this visual pleasure and physical discomfort? These images of Kha’s bewildered, open eyes while his malleable body is taken, touched, and grabbed at another’s whim conjures up an amalgam of emotions, the least of which is our own discomfort.”