As part of my research I have looked at photographers who have also engaged strangers in their work, creating portraiture that explores the complicity between photographer and subject. Taking into consideration these different approaches to photographing strangers, I aim to employ similar strategies in my own work.
For her series Sugar Camp Road, Katy Grannan adapted a strategy of posting advertisements in local papers to find her models as she felt uncomfortable approaching strangers on the street. She then photographed her sitters in their chosen locations that were charged with dark histories or illicit activities. All these elements create a tangible tension in Grannan’s otherwise quiet and picturesque photographs.
Erwin Wurm’s Instructions on How to Be Politically Incorrect is a body of work that engages strangers (or volunteers as he calls them). In his work, Wurm approaches his sitters by asking the curator to put an advert in the paper calling for the participants to take part in fictitious scenarios, usually in public places, that challenge social norms through performance and absurdity. Wurm describes the process as collaborative as he welcomes and explores ideas from the participants. The final images are playful, yet uncomfortable to view as they challenge our cultural perception of the private boundaries of the body.
In contrast, Shizuka Yokomizo in her series Strangers, never actually met her sitters in person. Her strategy was to initially identify suitable locations for her photographs - accessible ground floor windows of domestic buildings that could be photographed from the street. She then sent letters to the inhabitants of the houses inviting them to be photographed at an appointed time in the evening, subsequently getting their consent for being the subject of her voyeurism. The body of work consists of nineteen unsettling portraits of strangers looking out of the window at night in anticipation to be photographed by the unknown photographer.