Stranger Scenes: Street Portraits in San Jose

For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been making street portraits of strangers in San Jose. I find a patch of light that shows promise. Then I wait. When a subject approaches the light, I introduce myself. My intro is magic. It works almost every time. I’ve learned a few things worth sharing. The public square is dominated by twenty- and thirtysomethings. When I see an older person like me or even older (rare), we acknowledge each other with a chuckle and say something about how nice the sun feels. Women are more comfortable than men with the idea of a street portrait. They enjoy the process more and take a greater interest in why I do what I do. My intro is so exquisite that I expect a yes every time. When I get a no—it’s happened twice this week—I suffer as though it were a break up. Some version of the it’s-not-you-it’s-me is exchanged, as the stranger moves in one direction, and I move in the other. I never close the day on a no. I shake it off and wait for a yes to happen. In a future Stranger Scenes post, I’ll try to say something about the mysterious power of fleeting yet intense encounters with a perfectly unknown Somebody. Please click on thumbnails below to see full-size images.

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