For the past six weeks, I have been trying to connect with the researcher and author, Kio Stark. I first became aware of Kio’s work in a TED video entitled, Why You Should Talk to Strangers. In it, she describes the beneficial effects for us when we go out of our way to talk with strangers; making connections that enhance our day as well as our lives. Shortly after watching the video, I read her newly published book, When Strangers Meet, which further details the concept of engaging with strangers.
The reason I’ve been wanting to meet up with Kio Stark has much to do with the essential work I accomplish when I make formal street portraits of people I meet.
In listening to her on the video, and reading her book, I came to the realization that her research validates the unconscious motivation that drives my desire to photograph people. It has to do with the concept of street intimacy.
Here is how she describes the phenomena:
Talking to a stranger is, at its best, an exquisite interruption of what you were expecting to happen…you are…connected. Conversations with strangers fill an essential need….The name of the need is intimacy.
There is [a] kind of intimate relationship, one that holds us together for just a fleeting moment and then vanishes….This is street intimacy.
Now that I have a way of identifying the feeling that comes up for me, the need for connection when I see a stranger I wish to photograph, I want to develop a project that explores the reciprocal of this phenomena. That is to say, when a person agrees to allow me to make their portrait, does this fulfill their own need to make a connection? Is this what motivates people to trust me enough to render themselves a little bit vulnerable and permit me to make their portrait? Does street intimacy actually work both ways, or is their motivation driven by something else?
It’s a question I’d like to pose to Kio Stark…if only I could reach her. Her web site has no “contact me” platform, and a Google search produces a small bit of information but no email address. So I’m left to composing this blog post, inserting it in a tweet to her, and seeing if I can connect.
Kio, here’s my web site: http://www.robertkalmanweb.com Here’s my email address: email@example.com
Would really like to explore my project idea with you.