The perfect stranger

On July 4 I gave myself a simple assignment: photograph 50 random strangers. The idea was to document what an ordinary American looks like. But then it got really hot — and I got really lazy — so I didn’t shoot a single frame.

Independence Day has long since passed, but the idea has continued to nag me. And although I’ve seen several potential subjects, the timing or setting has never been quite right.
Until yesterday.
I was walking to my car after my twice-yearly haircut when I heard a fiddler playing  some Bluegrass. Curious, I followed the sound toward a warehouse across the street, but soon realized that the music was coming from a parked truck. Through the back window I could see a lone figure in the passenger side.
I approached the truck cautiously, like a cop making a traffic stop. But I soon relaxed: The fellow inside was affable and articulate. Originally from North Dakota, he came to Minnesota to look for work — “odd jobs, mostly” — and to play a few gigs. Some days he lives out of his truck; others he stays with friends.

It took me a couple of minutes to notice that his left pinky was bandaged. “Got bit by a radial saw,” he said. “Can’t wait til it heals so I can play properly with all my fingers again.” I was stunned to realize he’d been fiddling so brilliantly with a one-digit deficit.

After a few minutes of chatting, he graciously sat for a couple of shots. We traded emails and promised to stay in touch.

Meet Micah, my first frame. Talk about a perfect stranger …

I wonder who frame #2 will be?


    • Not *quite* the perfect post, as it turns out: I spotted a typo. 😉 But thank you, than you, thank you all the same.

  1. great photo, and you’re so brave!! complete strangers, i am impressed I don’t know if I could do it. Be careful though, there are some weirdo’s out there make sure you have someone with you x

    • Thanks for your very kind words, Sue — though I think I’m more curious than brave. 🙂 And thanks, too, for the reminder about weirdos. I promise to be careful. Cheers from Minnesota!

  2. I just love this photo. Micah looks how I like to imagine middle America at its best: self-sufficient, creative, independent, and playing great bluegrass. All power to his pinky.

    Oh, but I second Sue: you are so gifted at making friends out of strangers (speaking as one of those strangers) but watch out for the weirdos. You know, certain truckers and so on… 😉

    • But one of my favorite people is a trucker! 😉

      Seriously, though … thanks (as always) for your way-too-kind words. And I promise to keep the weirdo radar on its highest setting.

  3. I appreciate this so much! Micah is a beloved friend who kinda opts for the most part to go invisible, so having this as-close-to-perfect-as-a-man-can-get “captured” in many shades of gray is a treasure! Great choice!
    Thank you!

    • Thanks for your very kind comment, Denise … you just made my day! I met Micah only in passing that day, but greatly enjoyed the few minutes we spent chatting. He struck me as a very genuine, very kind person. I feel very lucky to have met him — and you are truly lucky to know him! You’re welcome to download the photo from my post, if you wish. Again, thank you SO much for taking the time to write. Cheers to you from snowy Minnesota!

    • What a lovely tribute to Micah, Kari. It’s so nice to be “meeting” some of his friends! You *all* seem to be pretty great humans overall. 🙂 Thank you for stopping by, and especially for taking the time to leave your kind comment.

    • So happy to read your comment, Danish Exchange! It took me a long time to get over my fear of photographing people, but it’s been very rewarding. I’ve met some wonderful people and had a lot of really neat, fun interactions because of my “stranger” photography. And the best part is that some of the former strangers — like Micah — have now become friends. So, happy shooting!

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