Richard Renaldi’s assignment posed many challenges for me, initially, as well as throughout the completion of it. I am confident in my practice when I have actively chosen to partake in an interactive engagement, however when my task was to approach random strangers, and then put my trust into them with the handling of my mobile phone or DSLR, I was apprehensive. In addition to this, my courage varies depending on how I feel about a situation. I found that this assignment really challenged this and I struggled to overcome my inner fear of approaching unknown people.
When finding people to approach, I kept around the University and Cathedral grounds as everyone was mostly of a similar age or occupation. This made me more at ease as I felt greater comfort at the thought of approaching those who may be in education and possibly be more willing to help. When passing particular people, I got a sense for who I would feel most comfortable approaching, going by who looked friendly and communicative. However it was only after I had passed them that I plucked up the courage to go back and approach. Creating a narrative form throughout these images depended on how much I wanted to reveal about myself in each portrait, to the viewer and to the person taking the photograph. The portraits framing my behind signify my identity being concealed from the participant, and the portrait of me facing the camera signifies an openness to the participant, once more, I found this varied depending on who I felt most comfortable around.
Unfortunately none of the participants were willing to exchange contact details, but were happy to give me their names, which when reflecting, I don’t see as a negative. One could suggest it allows for these interactions to become more rememberable and momentary and although the assignment orders to gain these contacts, I don’t feel as though the piece lacks from having not achieving this element — even if it was for the participants benefit. Following this, the engagement aspect really enhanced my outlook on approaching strangers as for example one participant, Robert, began telling me stories about his mother who was lowered down into rubble after the Coventry Blitz. This was a conversation that I hadn’t anticipated when approaching him and went away feeling a sense of accomplishment and positivity. I have definitely endured the challenges of Renaldi’s assignment, but more so the positives and benefits – the pushing of boundaries and the sense of self worth and achievement. It remains an approach that I still would hesitate to practice in future, but from the engagements I encountered, I do have more of an open mind regarding this approach.