Photo Diary | How Close Can You Get to a Stranger
Steven Piper is the 24-year-old nostalgic photo connoisseur focused on the relationship between strangers and his lens. While based in Chicago for the FCB agency, his intimate work often reflects time spent in France. Piper’s intermittent voyages to Paris and Lyon revolutionized his perspective on art, culture, and lifestyle. Greatly inspired by street photographers like Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Doisneau, Gary Winogrand, Steven presents the first set of his ongoing photo series, How Close Can You Get to a Stranger. Balancing natural composition and the focus of his subjects, Piper breathes life into his transients. We caught up with the Midwest Parisienne to pick his brain on the series:
This thirty-two photographic love letter to Paris captures authentic Parisians in the only method it calls for: black and white. By reducing the noise of everyday Parisian life to simplistic, contrasting, textured black and white, the essence of individuality is magnified.
A thoughtful yet natural composition is maintained in order to draw focus to the subjects and their respective activities. There exists a sequential gradient of proximity as the viewer is brought closer and closer to the subjects one photograph at a time.
Farther away, we are required to ponder the overall composition of ambiguous, organic, dynamic shapes existing within static boundaries. It is the individuals within these spaces that give it character and meaning.
As we move closer, the viewer is allowed to peer into the expressions of these distinct individuals. We are allowed to wonder more personally about their lives as more detail comes into play. An extra wrinkle here, an errant hair there. A look of leisure or surprise; a wink, a bashful smile.
The idea of strangers transcends the frames they are captured in, bringing mysteriousness to a curious audience. The subjects captured speak to the romance of Paris. While they may be conventional citizens casually going about their day, I frame them in such a light that develops them into characters. The natural behaviors and routines turn into a performance piece caught in split-second moments.
How Close Can You Get to a Stranger: a series of authentic moments captured to outlive the present. To my subjects, you were once a passerby in my life, yet now I look at you, so intently.