Today’s face is perhaps a cautionary tale. It is for me at least. A lot of the early photographs in my 1000faces project were taken at a bar near my home. I became a regular and would go at least once a week, usually on Wednesday nights. Over time I became a fixture and photographed a lot of people and became good friends with many of them. I thought nothing of approaching anyone and asking for their picture and most of the time people were fine with it. Sometimes not so much (though I never got hit).
This guy, whose name escapes me, was obviously fine with it. Whenever I photograph someone – unless they are on stage – I introduce myself and ask if it’s OK to take their picture. Some people have suggested it would be better/easier to hang back and take photographs on the sly. It’s not what I do though.
In fact, to help legitimize 1000faces I had little Moo cards made. For a lot of people it seemed to transform me from a stranger with a camera into someone working on an art project. So far, so good. Unfortunately – and this is the cautionary part of the story – my cards originally had my cell number on them.
If you look at my project you’ll find I’ve photographed several thousand people at this point. Giving several thousand strangers your phone number isn’t a good idea. One day I was at work (I do PR and was working at Weber Shandwick at the time) and my phone rang. The friendly (but unfamiliar) voice on the phone started talking, saying they were glad they caught me and on and on.
I had no idea who it was. At first I wasn’t sure if it was a man or a woman. I had no context for the call and the person wasn’t helping. Eventually I figured out it was someone I’d photographed and that it was today’s face. He was a strange duck and didn’t seem to think there was anything odd about calling to share his troubles with me early one morning.
As soon as we hung up I went online and order new cards – without my number.