Complete Strangers Get Close in this Photography Series

In Richard Renaldi’s photos, strangers share a fleeting moment of intimacy

They clasp hands, link arms or sometimes lay heads on each other’s shoulders. In a few cases, someone kisses another on the cheek. At first glance, New York photographer Richard Renaldi’s street portraits seem to be of oddly paired friends—people you wouldn’t expect to see hanging out together, who paused on the sidewalk for a spontaneous snapshot. But the subjects in his photos have never met. Since 2007, Renaldi has been traveling the country and asking complete strangers to physically interact for a series of photos called Touching Strangers. He compares his approach to finding willing subjects as “akin to what a hypnotist might do when they are able to identify people that are susceptible to their suggestions.” He scans passersby for people who seem open to pushing the limits of their personal space. The results are remarkably intimate. And while in some cases there are hints of reservation—a curled hand, a stiff arm—this only adds to the wonder of the photos, revealing that in this era of scant privacy, humans still find ways to keep something to themselves.


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