The Stranger


Stranger in Chicago


I was in Chicago on New Year’s eve 2014, the coldest god damn time of the year to visit that city. My stay was a short 30 hour trip to attend a friend’s wedding, and because I assumed that I don't have much time to do anything else, I didn’t reach out to anyone to shoot with while I was visiting.

Somehow though, I managed to make time for a few hours to explore the city the day I arrived. I took my camera (a Leica M6), a box of Portra 400, and started walking around the city. Mind you, it was 7 degrees Fahrenheit. Just 7. What the fuck? “Where’s the 7 behind the 7? Why isn’t it 77?” said the little bitchy Californian voice inside my head. After growing more frustrated with the cold and wondering how people would even live in that city, I realized I need to get over it and move on. Right as I was having this internal conversation with myself, I came across her. She was wearing a Burberry trench coat with high heels, walking down the street in the middle of the cold like she owned the city. She was going from one building to the next, so she wasn’t covered from head to toe in North Face and snot. Her walk was strong and her posture confident. I never approach random people to photograph them, but my legs just started walking towards her and the next thing I knew I was noticeably approaching her.

I introduced myself, and explained what I do (and I think I gestured at my camera while I was explaining; kind of like how I point at the menu sometimes when I order food. Why do I point..). She was intrigued but wasn’t convinced. So I said that I would walk with her to the next block and if she didn’t trust me by then, I would go my separate way. We got to the next block, and she turned to me and asked for my phone. She typed in an address into my Google Maps and asked to meet her there at 2pm sharp.

I got to the address, a hotel in the city, and found her in the lobby. She explained that the only way she would let me photograph her is to never mention her name and to never completely show her face. She happened to be the daughter of someone important, so she couldn’t risk having their family name “tarnished”.

We went to a room and the rest is what you see here. I had one hour to shoot until I had to be back at my hotel and get ready for the wedding. So we made the most of the time we had. 

We shot, she called her driver to give me a ride, and I went onto attend the wedding (which was on New Years eve, so it was double the occasion).

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