Yesterday I reached 1000 faces. It put a huge smile on my face. This whole project started inadvertently. For ages I didn’t really photograph people – at least not strangers. But in the Spring of 2008, at a bar in Austin, some strangers approached me and asked if I’d take their pictures. It seemed a little weird since they’d never see them but I did it. That night I took a handful of photographs in a couple of bars and had a good time.
When I got back to Boston I went over to the Chicken Bone and photographed a couple of people there. At that point it was still about having fun taking pictures in bars; I wasn’t really thinking about what I was doing in any conscious way. After that every now and then I’d photograph people but it wasn’t a coherent project just yet.
A few months later, in July, I was at PodCamp Boston. I was restless and a little bored. I’d taken a few shots and was just being aimless. I knew many of the people there and thought it might be cool to get all of the attendees pictures. Over the course of the event I probably got 150 people – but it was still just a one off thing.
When I went to post the photos though – and saw this big mosaic of faces – I decided there was more I could do with this idea. The faces were all different – there were men and women, young and old, white, black, Asian, attractive, plain, bearded and bare-faced. Seeing them all together inspired me to try for – what seemed like an impossible number – 1000 faces.
I will say I’ve always been pretty good with faces. Some people can meet a person dozens of times and still not recognize them. I’ve the opposite. There was story on it yesterday (not about me, but about people able to recognize faces) and it reminded me of a story.
Fourteen years ago, in the winter, I was walking through Kendall Square during a blizzard in the late afternoon. Walking down the sidewalk I passed a woman all bundled up. Her face was covered so only her eyes were showing. As we passed, I realized it was my friend Marci – whom I hadn’t seen in six or seven years. We reconnected and spent a few hours over drinks.
After PodCamp, I started looking for more and more opportunities to photograph people – friends, family, colleagues, strangers, whomever. And after more than a year, I’ve finally hit 1000faces. I think every one of them is wonderful:
**I realize that a whole section appears twice – that was a screw up – there are more than 1000 if count them twice **
I have so many people to thank for this – all the people who have said “yes” when a stranger approached them to ask for their picture. All the people who’ve gotten involved and helped round up more people and explained that I wasn’t sketchy, or a nut or a perv. People like Karyn and Regan and Sarah and Scott; Matt and Sid and Mark and Tabby; Sheila and Johnny and most especially Wendy. And of course to everyone at the Chicken Bone who’ve been cool with me taking pictures there.
Now I spend a lot of time looking at faces. People are surprised when I recall having photographed them at some point in the past – but it shouldn’t be a big surprise. I love the way people look and can’t wait to get started on the next thousand.