This unique project is titled Touching Strangers, and the photographer behind this series of work is Richard Renaldi. Touching Strangers evolved out of a project Renaldi did back in 2003, titled See America By Bus. This project involved the photographer taking photos of people in Greyhound bus stations all over the country.
Since 2007, photographer Richard Renaldi has worked on a series of photographs for which he asks complete strangers to physically interact while posing together for a portrait.
His aim was simple: to encourage people to break away from who they are and pose with complete strangers with their bodies touching in some way.
Touching Strangers creates intimate and ephemeral relationships that exist only for the moment of the photograph. The images are beautiful and strange, crossing out of the zones of safe physical intimacy with strangers and into deep emotional landscapes never photographed before.
These two men might both be wearing a suit and tie, but that’s probably all they know about one another – they are strangers after all! Renaldi aims to push people out of their comfort zones and think beyond racial and ethnic divisions.
Not only does Richard Renaldi highlight the breaking down of boundaries between strangers, but he also highlights the height difference between this man and woman (not intentional, we’re sure!) The photographer’s project is so unique that He has recently launched a joint Kickstarter project with Aperture to fund a special edition book of these photographs.
Chris Boot states the photographer is “out there invoking people to touch each other, to breach taboos, to reach out to each other across race and class and age barriers. It says something about human society.”
I wonder what happens once the photograph has been taken. Do both individuals just walk away and get on with their day?
More about the inspiring photographer behind this series: Richard Renaldi was born in Chicago in 1968 and he received his BFA in photography from New York University in 1990. Exhibitions of his photographs have been mounted in galleries and museums throughout the United States, Asia, and Europe.
On his website alone, the photographer lists 41 exhibitions over the recent years that he has been involved with, either as solo exhibitions of his work, or group photographer exhibitions. Many photography critics are hailing his series Touching Strangers as an innovation in photography.
This is a beautifully simple gesture pressing both men’s palms against one another – a symbol of hope and unity. This series definitely strives towards these two themes, through hoping to unite strangers who would not normally cross paths