New Castle News

November 7, 2013

Tim Kolodziej: Here's a photo experiment that just might make you smile

Tim Kolodziej
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — We’re all posers, you know.

We are.

Doesn’t matter what the command is.

“Say cheese ...”

“1-2-3 ...”

“Smile pretty ...”

“What does the fox say ...”

We make peace signs. We make “Zoolander” lips. We make like gangstas with our buddies. And we make like choirboys at family events.


That’s us.

We love to pose.

We’re all posers, you know.

Doesn’t matter if there’s a camera or not.

We love to pretend we’re someone other than who we really are.

I’m a geek. I’m a jock. I’m a dancer. I’m a liberal. I’m a conservative. I’m a  ... (fill in the blank).

We search for identity, for a common bond, in so many different ways — work, school, athletics, family, volunteerism, whatever.

But deep down, we know that’s not who we really are. It’s just what we do.

We just hope no one finds out.

We’re imposters. Frauds.


That’s us.

We love to pose.

And yet we love to connect.

But the ironic thing is, the only path to true connection is transparency. And that takes a little relational work along the way.

That’s why I was captivated by a video I discovered on Twitter last week (you can view it at right or below). It was a “CBS On The Road” feature on New York City photographer Richard Renaldi.

The segment focused on a project Renaldi had been working on called “Touching Strangers,” where he would randomly select people off the street and pair them for a photo.

Hmm. Weird.

Then I actually watched the video.

(I ask you to do the same right now before reading any farther. Go ahead, I’ll wait for you. You’ll be glad you did.)

OK, ready to continue? Here are three things that really struck me as I watched.

1) “It was sort of awkward. Then sort of not” — That was the reaction from one of the young ladies following her photo shoot.

That’s a pretty common response for most new situations we enter. We’re a little nervous. A little apprehensive to jump in. A little hesitant to open up to those we really don’t know.

Have you ever watched parents try to get a couple of toddlers to play? It’s the same progression.

•An awkward introduction

•A warming-up period

then ...

•I can’t imagine playing WITHOUT this person today

Whether we’re toddlers of 3 or 43, not much changes.

2) “We are probably missing so much about the people all around us” — The woman in the video who made that comment was correct.

We don’t know what we’re missing with the people around us.

That is, until we connect in some way.

Until we connect in some way, we can’t find out if there’s a real connection.

Until we connect in some way, we can’t find out if there’s NO real connection.

And both of those conclusions are OK. Both are real. Both result from true, genuine exploration.

We’ll never know until we know.

3) “I feel like I cared for her” — That sentiment was expressed by Brian, the poetry teacher, toward 95-year-old Reiko, the fashion designer.

That’s powerful.

And it’s a great teaching point we’ve all probably heard at some time, in some way.

•You can’t walk without taking a step.

•You can’t feel if you don’t touch.

•You can’t sail without leaving the harbor.

•You can’t truly experience life without connection.

In essense, Renaldi’s project is a beautiful reminder: True connection often occurs three or four layers deep.

In other words, any great photographer will tell you a photo becomes magical when the subjects STOP posing.

Take action and your emotions will catch up.

Let down your guard and be real.

Need less. Reach out more.

Touch. Experience. Feel.

I don’t know about you, but I was moved by the short video.

And I was truly convicted.

Too often I live by sight and not by faith.

Too often I rush to judgment by what a situation appears to be, only later discovering what it truly is.

Too often I forget that an icicle melts only when it meets warmth, yet I choose to remain cool.

A poser.

Way too often, that’s me.

I love how the video’s narrator, Steve Hartman, ends the piece on Renaldi’s unique experiment.

“He shows us humanity as it could be, as most of us wish it would be. And, as it was, at least for this one fleeting moment in time.”

Picture-perfect, if you ask me.

And that’s something to smile about.