100 Strangers: Think Before You Ink, 167-16 Hillside Avenue, Queens, NY

Rich (Tattoo Artist)

Legit, like I feel like I've been so focused and driven on the s**t I do that I really haven't hit a point that set me back yet.

My end goal is to 'not have to'.  Dead ass. To 'not have to'. I want to be at a point where I'm creating because I WANT to, not because I HAVE to. "

100 Strangers: 57th Street, Brooklyn, NY

Adriana

"I've been living in New York City for 2 years. I was raised in Bogota, Colombia. I moved out here (NYC) for freedom; Freedom to express myself and to be exactly who I am without being judged for it. New York is also a great place to follow the dream I've always had in being a tattoo artist. I've been obsessed with tattoos all my life.

Back home I always felt like I didn't belong there. Like, I never felt accepted by the people around me. 

I'm really optimistic about finally being able to open up shop as a tattoo artist. I look forward to giving people wonderful pieces of art that they can wear for the rest of their lives. I love tattooing so much, one of my biggest fears would be if something bad were to happen to my hand.  Like, not being able to draw scares me..." 

 

100 Strangers: Washington St., (Dumbo) Brooklyn, NY

Stephen

 

"While I was in school, I found an opportunity to study abroad in Hong Kong for a semester, so I jumped on it. I got things set up so that I was in a good position to have a good time and be pretty financially strong. Once there, though, I lost my discipline and ended up spending a lot of money very quickly – clothes, travelling, and especially going out with newfound friends. I was crazy in love with my girlfriend back in the US, so I had her visit for a week, paying for half of her airfare and hotel.

So, of course, about halfway through my 6 month visit, I was so far overspent that I only had a few hundred dollars to cover all my expenses for my last few months. And, having a student visa, I was barred from any employment. I fell pretty hard into depression. I couldn’t leave the dorm room for much, since I needed to conserve energy and money, so I became a sort of internet hermit for a few months. I lost a lot of weight from malnutrition and was experiencing other symptoms. I was definitely not healthy, either physically or psychologically. And in my depression, I let my relationship deteriorate heavily, leading to its end. It was a pretty awful time.

Eventually, I did make it through. When I got back home, I started classes up and got a job, started working out and bounced back physically and mentally. But the psychological part really hurt me, taking me years to resolve. I think that coming to NYC was a pretty big milestone in that recovery – it was sort of me proving to myself that I was able to survive out on my own in a new and difficult environment. Being here for two years now has reunited me with a part of me I think I left in Hong Kong."- Stephen Sweat

100 Strangers: Times Square, Manhattan, NY

Taniesha 

"...about 7 years outside of high school I went to 4 different colleges, took out numerous loans, changed majors 5 times. I was trying to make my parents happy by completing college, getting a degree in something. 7 years down, no degree, thousands of dollars in school loan debt., unhappy, stressed and was beginning to resent my folks! I was slowly realizing that I wasn't going to school for me, I was trying to make my parents proud by achieving something that held zero weight with me.  During those years I stumbled across a position in a Property Management company dealing with families in need. I only took the position because I needed more money to pay off these loans. The more time I spent in my new position the more I was filling the void of not having a fulfilling life. I was given the opportunity to build relationships with struggling families, watch them grow while helping them keep a roof over their heads. Now 6 years later, I'm still in a career I love that I would have never found had I continued to follow what others wanted me to do. The lesson through all of this is to lead yourself, take risks! You can't let someone else (even your lovely parents) dictate what path to take in life. Your happiness reigns supreme over everything! It may have taken me longer than most to find my niche....but I'm here to stay!"- Taniesha Cable

100 Strangers: World Trade Center Memorial, Manhattan, NY

Keith

"I'm more of a glass half empty kind of person and I've come to except that. At the same time I've come to understand that life requires both half empty and half full. I'm most optimistic about the prospect of becoming my true self. It sounds so cliche but Oprah Winfrey has always been a huge influence on my life growing up. I've learned that everything happens for a reason. My goal is to learn from everything in life. 


The toughest situation I've been through would be two years ago today, March 6th. It was when I moved to New York. I work for a luxury home furnishing brand and a week before Christmas I was given the bad news that my store was closing and I would be out of a job that I loved. Luckily, I got some news that they were offering me a transfer. Prior to March 6th I had three weeks to find an apartment and move with little to no money. Those three weeks were full of so many emotions. My mother was my saving grace and helped me move with the little money she had. She knew it meant a lot to me, that I was following my passion and here I am today." Keith Brown

100 Strangers: Dumbo Brooklyn, NY

David

"... I was 19 when I got my felony. Had I known the severity of the decision I made that lead to it, I probably would've thought twice about it. I honestly feel that being incarcerated is worst than death, it's like you're pretty much alive but dead to society. And corporate America has it set up to where you pretty much don't get a second chance.

But I'm still optimistic about the future because it's really my choice regardless of the hurdles I've  self imposed and put in front of myself. I'm up for the challenge. And it kind of brings a smile to my face because the future seems bright, it's as bright as you let it be. You just got to let the sun shine down in you're life..." - David Edouard

100 Strangers: Coney Island, Brooklyn, NY

Jasmine

"I learned to always finish what you start and always live life because you never know when it will end... 

My greatest memory was graduating from college and walking across the stage because I knew I finished what I started even with all the challenges that came my way. My worse memory was losing my father when I was 20 because I knew he wouldn't see me graduate from college, get married or see me have kids."- Jasmine Ruiz

100 Strangers: Manhattan Bridge, NYC

Nichole

"Over time, a person can become use to living in a city with a large population, like my home New York City. I don't notice how many people I pass or bump into throughout the day any more. The connections are so constant that it becomes a continuous impression of being tethered to another person. That crowded feeling becomes a normal feeling. There rare occasions when everything seems to silence and I feel most connected to only myself. During the few moments after twilight, I look at the darkening sky to see all the possible colors it can contain. There is something magical about the different shades of teal that takes over reds and oranges from the setting sun. I mentally separate myself from the crowd and I can feel my own energy. It is as if time is quietly standing still. This feeling only lasts a few minutes because these colors quickly expire. Then, the city’s overwhelming buzz crashes back and continues into the night."- Nichole Quinn

100 Strangers: "Google Me" Famous Photographer on the Subway, Queens, NY

 

Louis Mendes

So I hopped on the J train today heading to Manhattan from Queens. While the train slows down to make it's first stop, I notice an older gentlemen carrying this vintage styled Graflex camera. My instant thought was "I have to get a shot of that, I will get a shot of that...". When the train stops, I hop off one car just to get on the same car he was on. As soon I step inside, I calmly approached him. My first question for him was "Do you mind if I get a shot of you with that camera, it's pretty fly". He nods his head signaling that I may. After taking a few shots, I ask him "so that camera still works, huh?". He nods his head again signaling yes. Now after a while I'm staring at this man and I'm trying to figure out if I know him or then again if I should know him. I've studied a lot of great photographers from back in the day and for some reason, I felt like I've seen this man's work before. So I try to ask him the safest question I knew "So how long have you been shooting?". His first words to me? "Google Me, Louis Mendes"

Come to find out this man is very legendary in NY. He has photographed celebrities including Spike Lee, Denzel Washington, Cab Calloway, Tito Puente and even the great Gordon Parks.

After the train stopped, I reached over to shake his hand. That same day every shot I took was a money shot. I'm never washing my hand again... LOL
 

 

100 Strangers: Washington St.(Dumbo), Brooklyn, NY

 

Che' & Chrystal

 

I ran across this stylish couple last week during Fashion shoot I had in Brooklyn. I asked them to tell me a little bit more about what they do together. Here's what they said:

"I'm glad you ask that. We honestly share the same passion for fashion and our style is very similar. Although we both love fashion, she is really into cosmetology but mostly makeup. Together we share our ideas and support each other with unconditional love."