Engaging strangers is a skill all photographers learn in their craft, an essential tool in creating compelling social or documentary work, but over time becomes quite formulaic. We expect a lot of our subjects; trust, candor, time, flexibility, and patience but give little in return. Recently I began a brief experiment in testing the boundaries of my own skills negotiating strangers into the absurd, while gathering something personal at the same moment. Each Polaroid taken of a stranger on the street making a "finger mask around their eyes" required waiting for exactly one minute for the image to develop and then a signature at the bottom of the photo claiming participation in the exercise.
The develop time became a chance to get briefly acquainted and the signature a personal touch given to the photographer by the hand of each subject. The fun was found in communicating the idea, gaining approval, and then often teaching the model how to make the "mask", which resulted in a 50/50 success-failure rate. Each image had a bit of unpredictability due to the age of the film and the less-than-precise design of the viewfinder, making the peeling of the image from the paper negative exciting for both photographer and subject. Here are but a few of the images from this on-going project.