Ever since we were children, our parents taught us that strangers could pose a potential danger. Many people are taught to keep their eyes to themselves and ignore other people lest they threaten them. Strangers can be scary because you never know what their motives are and what they are capable of doing.
On the other hand, an Irish saying always stuck with me, “Strangers are just friends you haven’t met yet.” And that saying shows a friendly side of approaching people you don’t know. How can you truly judge whether someone is a threat or a potential friend if they haven’t said or done anything to you yet?
In search of answers to this problem, one photographer sought out strangers and proceeded to transform them into comfortable pals. The results of this project are stunning and uplifting.
The photo project called “Touching Strangers” created by brain-child and New York photographer Richard Renaldi delivered some shocking results.
Renaldi used a large format 8×10 view camera to capture strangers in positions where they were forced to touch each other.
He has been collecting images of unlikely pairs since 2007 when his passion project first began.
Rinaldi walks and explores the streets of New York City with his camera. When he spots two strangers who look like they’d have nothing to do with each other, he approaches them and proposes his idea.
More often than not the random strangers agree to pose for Rinaldi’s photo project. They stand next to a stranger and they touch.
Because they are touching each other in the photographs, the strangers appear to be family or very close friends.
The images differ. In some of them Renaldi asks his models to pose face-to-face or side-to-side. But one thing is always the same. They have some kind of hand or body contact.
Because of the intimate contact, the viewer cannot tell that these two people are complete strangers who have never even looked at each other before Renaldi approached them.
In a world where murders and crimes happen on a regular basis, these images which show people connecting through touch offers us a new way to approach strangers and people we don’t know. Maybe, if we give people a chance, we could become friends with them.
In the video below, you’ll watch as Renaldi poses two complete strangers for the old-time photograph.
Some of the photos you’ll see in the collection shared in the video make it hard to tell they’re not friends. While others capture the awkwardness of cuddling with a random dude.
Even when Renaldi’s subjects seem willing, they often give off sense of nervousness. But a few minutes into the shoot, it’s like a family Thanksgiving. Everyone becomes fast friends.
Surprisingly, most people who participate in the project say it breaks down a lot of barriers between people. And it feels good to connect like that with a stranger.
How do you think you’d respond to this man’s quirky request for a photo?