photographer inspiration: Richard Renaldi

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photos by

Richard

Renaldi

from

Touching Strangers

series

From Touching Strangers press release:

Richard

Renaldi

has been taking pictures of strangers since 1993. But  his most recent series of photographs is a fascinating experiment in  group portraiture. Why have these people come together for a picture? At  what point is someone no longer a stranger? These images explore our  most basic understanding of trust and fear: the fragility, possibility,  and psychology of human interactions.

Read more.

I came across the series Touching Strangers by Richard

Renaldi

a little while ago and was inspired to try approaching  strangers myself and ask to take their portraits (

see Astoria Park portraits here

). Up until that point I'd taken a more elusive stance when photographing strangers, preferring to be an unknown/unseen observer. Just approaching someone I didn't know and asking to take their picture was challenging enough -- 

Renaldi

takes it one step further by asking two or more strangers to pose together and touch. His subjects often hold hands, draw their heads together, sometimes even touch thighs and more intimate body parts.  Living in New York, we are surrounded by strangers all the time, but we so often ignore each other. There are rules (

no eye contact on the subway! ignore the person peeing/busking/screaming!)

and people are so often  immersed in smart phones/

ipod

bubbles -- it's truly refreshing to see a photographer working against this. I love how the expressions and body language of the subjects in each photo vary from person to person and photo to photo - from hilarious awkwardness to being totally at ease.

{nice write-up on his work on

npr

}