Seth Hancock: 10 Minutes with a Stranger
On May 28th, 2013, Photographer Seth Hancock packed up his car and left his home in Los Angeles to move to New York City. His choice to drive cross-country was sparked by an artistic and humanistic desire to photograph and get to know, even for just a brief moment in time, as many random strangers as possible. Seth believes that people in America have the ability and desire to communicate with one another, but often miss out on the opportunity to just talk given the ever present social media dialogue that has replaced in-person conversation.
Armed with only one camera, a small flash and a journal, Seth spent 47 days on the road meeting as many people as possible. His goal was to give each stranger the opportunity to have their photograph taken and their story told, not only in their own words, but also in their own handwriting. The result is nothing short of inspirational. The 150 individuals Seth met opened up and shared personal thoughts and stories that break down the barrier of social media constructs and reminds us why face to face communication is of the utmost importance. As Seth explains, “You learn so much more about a person when you look at their face, their eyes, their body language.”
Seth recently released a book entitled 10 Minutes with a Stranger documenting 30 of the 150 people photographed. This book incorporates Augmented Reality technology, which brings each of the images to life with personal videos, commentary by Seth or Behind the Scenes information about how and where he met certain people.
Seth is a New York City and Los Angeles Photographer specializing in Commercial and Editorial Portrait Photography. He has been professionally photographing people for over 7 years now and has a passion for being able to get personality out of each person he photographs.
10 Minutes with a Stranger
Imagine you are moving from Los Angeles to New York City. During that move you have the opportunity to drive across the United States and photograph random strangers.You allow yourself a very short time to interact with each person but you cannot limit yourself to who or where you photograph, regardless of the weather or lighting conditions. At the same time, you have to get those people to completely open up and write something tremendously personal about their lives in a journal you are carrying. Easy, right? Well, that’s exactly what I did.
So, on May 28th, 2013 I embarked on my move from LA to New York City with the sole purpose to meet as many people as I can, photograph a variety of people from all walks of life regardless of religious, personal or social beliefs and get them to write an answer in the journal to a personal question I ask them about their lives or beliefs. I wanted to get people talking with one another and not just through Tweets, Texts or Facebook posts. I wanted to learn as much as I could in a short amount of time once I met these people. I wanted to show that we can learn so much about each other if we just… talk! Once I met people I asked them to write something very personal about their lives in the journal I was carrying. Their personal responses were to questions I asked them to write about once I briefly talked with them. My only “restrictions”, if you will, were the following and in the order of importance:
1. Their answer to my question has to be honest and truthful.
2. They were only allowed to write on one page and have to put their name, age, city & state and occupation at the top of the page.
3. Their writing has to be in complete first person and solely about their life, thoughts or experiences.
4. I won’t accept “Fortune Cookie” or “Yearbook” responses that were innocuous, blasé, wistful or disingenuous.
5. I cannot help them write their entry (but I would be willing to write it if they were unable to physically).
6. Nothing they write is “off limits.”
Once we determined the ground rules they were free to answer the question I asked them about their lives or their thoughts on political, social or religious issues.
I explored America for 47 days, drove 7,000 miles, traveled across 16 states, stayed in 18 different hotels and photographed 150 people. The following images showcase 30 of the 150 people I met, photographed and had the pleasure to get to know while spending 10 Minutes with A Stranger.
Ed Grossman: Sunday DriveSeptember 28th, 2014
Visual Mixtape: New Photography at the Los Angeles Center of PhotographySeptember 25th, 2014
Amy Elkins: Black is the Day, Black is the NightSeptember 24th, 2014
Mark Dorf: EmergenceSeptember 22nd, 2014
Polly Brown: PlantsSeptember 21st, 2014