[29/100 Strangers]: Kristi

Basket Night.

[29/100 Strangers]: Kristi

This stranger portrait was made outdoors at our children’s elementary school fundraiser called, ‘Basket Night.’ The end-of-year tradition, like a Spring Fling, is highly anticipated throughout the school. A few weeks before the event, each classroom votes on a theme. The students donate various items to get wrapped into enormous gift baskets, which are raffled off on the occasion.

It is held at our school’s “grassy field,” and runs from 5:30-7:30 pm on a weeknight. I knew I would have some high quality light if the weather was cooperative.

Over 500+ families with children of all ages were splashed across the grass. Some were eating picnic dinners, some were dancing to pop music next to a small DJ stage, some were congregating around the baskets and deciding on which ones to drop their raffle tickets. There was a general hub-bub and a dense patchwork of blankets and collapsible chairs. And many, many strangers.

I first saw Kristi kicking back on an orange ground tarp. She was alone. Her husband was in the long food line, waiting to pick up their pre-ordered BBQ/Pizza meal.

I approached her and she was immediately flattered to be asked to participate and have her photo taken. I explained that she would be my guinea pig in the inaugural use of my reflector. Was that OK? Yes, Kristi was happy to oblige. She is 29/100 in my 100 Strangers project.

Using my reflector, we tried a few different surfaces: gold, silver, white, and a gold/silver combo. The gold made her appear too radioactive; the white was too dull; the silver blinded her; the stripey gold/silver seemed just right. It was a fun ten minute photo session. It took time to switch out each fabric treatment. I was grateful for her patience, and for a model with a fair complexion on which to test out the reflective surfaces.

We experienced the power of a setting sun at high altitude behind my subject’s head as it reflected back into her eyes. With the reflector in her own hands, the candle power made her squint as if she were looking into the sun. We had to step that reflector back several feet to modify and redirect the light. It was a good lesson and experience for me. Bless her, she was a sport and maintained a chipper disposition the whole time.

While we were shooting, I asked if she had thoughts to take to the 100 Strangers audience. Kristi said, “The moments of life go so fast. Slow down and enjoy it.’

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