Posing for pictures with friends and taking pictures of ourselves is something we’re all accustomed to now. We assume one of a few personas depending on the circumstances, and have the poses we’re most confident in in our arsenals. But when we’re pushed out of our comfort zone, gathered together in an impromptu shot with people we might not know very well, for example, it can throw our entire sense of balance off. Oh right, getting your picture is pretty weird after all, we’re reminded.
That sense of the unfamiliar is at the heart of photographer Richard Renaldi’s “Touching Strangers” series. For the project he began in 2007, eventually published as a book, Renaldi would approach strangers out in public and ask them to pose together with one another intimately, “in ways that people are usually taught to reserve for their close friends and loved ones,” he explains.
You might not be able to recognize the fact that the subjects are strangers if you didn’t know otherwise. Once you do the minor cracks in vulnerability, the hesitations in touching, and, on the opposite end of the spectrum, the openness of those that seem to have fully divested themselves of any reservations, become much more striking.