This man was circling us asking for a cigarette and generally posing a distraction while I was positioning my previous Stranger (Thomas) for his photo on Dundas Street in downtown Toronto. It was a distraction I could do without and I told him I was sorry but I don’t smoke and wished him well. The distractions continued and I could tell he had a mental health issue so finally I just said I needed to take this photo for my project to which he said “I’ll wait and then you can take mine too.” I said “Ok, I just need a few minutes here."

I really didn’t get much peace because he was dancing around us asking questions as I worked on Thomas’ photo but when I finished with Thomas I could see that this fellow was not moving along as I had expected so I said I’d be glad to photograph him for my internet project. I asked his name and he told me he is “Mr. Roberts.” We shook hands and his hand was tough and rough. Mr. Roberts has certainly been leading a challenging life. I told him I would need him to stop dancing around if possible and he said he would and then unbundled his dreadlocks, telling me he thought I would like to see them for the photo. I said they looked great.

I took a few photos, trying to catch him looking at my camera and not moving and when I figured I’d managed that, I thanked him and showed him the photo on my camera display and he seemed pleased. He told me he was on his way to court. I asked what for and he said “Not for me. I like to go down there. I’m going to see my psychiatrist and then to court.” I told him that sounded like a good plan and I hoped he would take good care of himself as I thanked him for helping me with my project.

I had somewhat mixed feelings about posting this one as I generally don’t approach people who are in very compromised positions or who might show in an unflattering or vulnerable way for the project photo. Mr. Roberts, however, though clearly compromised, had volunteered and wanted to be included and seemed to quite enjoy the experience. Since it was a positive encounter I decided it was very much in the spirit of 100 Strangers which I see as “making the streets a friendlier place one click at a time.”

Thank you Mr. Roberts for participating in 100 Strangers and for waiting your turn. You are Stranger #539 in Round 6 of my project. Take good care of yourself.

Find out more about the project and see pictures taken by other photographers at the 100 Strangers Flickr Group page.

To browse Round 1 of my 100 Strangers project click here:
To browse Round 2 of my 100 Strangers project click here:
To browse Round 3 of my 100 Strangers project click here:
To browse Round 4 of my 100 Strangers project click here:
To browse Round 5 of my 100 Strangers project click here:

Posted by jeffcbowen on 2014-07-09 20:58:39

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