This lovely lady is the owner of my favourite consignment shop(Brechó) in Floripa, Brecho de Marte. It’s on the way to my bus stop, so I pop in there frequently. Diane is always very friendly and helpful and on this day, which happened to be my birthday, I was in the mood to take a Stranger Portrait, and she cheerfully agreed.
I met Breno at the Lagoa Craft Market. He was selling bracelets, earrings and other jewellery he had made. Right away I noticed that he was a very sweet, soft spoken man. He showed me how he made the bracelets, and talked about how much he enjoyed creating things. Halfway through our interaction I asked, “Qual é teu nome?”(What is your name?) He looked at me for a moment with bewilderment. He said, “You took those words right out of my mouth. I opened my mouth to ask those exact words and you said them.” We talked about how important it is to be kind to people, even and especially people we don’t know. Our world is going a bit crazy but many good people exist, and we need to connect with each other. Breno said some very kind words to me and I felt like we bonded over that short time. During our conversation I thought, “I want to remember this connection. I’m going to ask him for a photo.” I then explained my project and he was very willing to take part.
With Breno I learned something. While this project is meant to improve my portraiture skills and feel comfortable approaching strangers, it’s about more than that. It’s about connecting with “strangers,” who really are only strangers until you start having a conversation. It’s about acknowledging and connecting with other human beings. It is one of my personal goals to try and acknowledge people more, even if it’s just looking at people in the eye and smiling at people I pass on the street.
Of course, we have to be safe and cautious when we speak to people we don’t know. But let’s not allow fear to rule. Let’s connect with our fellow human beings. You might even meet a gem like Breno.