Max, stranger 98/100, is from Barstow, California. While I was photographing his wife Cocoa (No.97), he stood behind me and inquired if I would include him in my stranger portait project, too.
Until he moved into the same spot where I had just finished photographing Cocoa, I hadn’t studied his appearance. I noticed his two plaids and a handlebar moustache. Yes, I was delighted to make his portrait.
We met after several hours of early morning viewing of special shaped hot-air balloons at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta (AIBF). This Fiesta was his first. He was excited next to watch the chainsaw sculpture contest taking place somewhere else inside Balloon Fiesta Park.
After his portrait was finished, Max stepped away to join another couple. They were friends who were patiently waiting to continue to their next activity. His wife lingered behind and told me about him.
“Max paints military tanks at Fort Irwin,” said Cocoa. With a laugh, she described him: “Max is outgoing, friendly, and a little crazy. He’s a people person and helpful. We met when we were kids in the same neighborhood.”
In post, I further enjoyed discovering his distinguished chin, and the curl of his blue and yellow plaid shirt collar tips. They reminded me of the shape horns on a mountain sheep, and they were immediately next to the faux fleece lining on his red outershirt. Max was a natural smizer: one who smiles with his eyes.