Hey Stranger™ Is About Meeting Yourself Anew (And, Maybe Someone New?)…

Hey there, new friend! Or, should I say ‘Hey stranger’? Nope, probably not. Because, in my mind, you are no longer a stranger. I already know that we must have some things in common, – otherwise, you would not be reading this right now. You would not have found this page, me, and my work if you wouldn’t be thinking a lot like me, and feeling a lot like me. See? I already know that much!

And here’s the first thing I want you to know: not a single word of this text is written by or with the help of Ai. In a world where Ai integrates deeply (perhaps, even too deeply?) into our everyday life, real human communication becomes a rarity. So, I am keeping it human, real, and honest. For your sake, and mine. Just thought you’d want to know.

What is ‘Hey Stranger’ all about? Essentially, it’s a form of greeting (duh!) that can feel very friendly and exciting, but can be also used in a flirty manner. It can be addressed to an attractive stranger or a partner, to a good friend we haven’t seen in a long time, or to ourselves – as a form of approval. That wide variety of meanings and subcontexts is precisely why I chose this name for my project. Because it’s about ALL of these things baked into one.

Now, why ‘Hey Stranger’, and why you? Because, most likely, the society, the work environment, and maybe even your family and your ex-partner have all done their share to convince you that you are, in fact, not who you think you are. That you are different, that you are less than, that you are not on par with the expectations. Not as smart, attractive, educated, successful, helpful – you name it – as they’d perceived you to be, as they expected you to turn up being. And when the pressure builds up, you give into it and start wondering the same. Start doubting yourself, seeing all the flaws that others see in you. You start losing yourself to self-doubt and lack of confidence. You try to push these thoughts back only to have them reappear more often and make you doubt yourself even more. Now, you can hardly see past your ‘flaws’ (only on a good day, mind you), and you start noticing a deep disconnection between the way you feel inside, and the things you are seeing in the mirror. Somewhere deep inside of you is this amazing human that is excitable, sensitive, sensual, energetic, and young-spirited. But they are locked in a dark dusty room, and you can’t find the key because you lost it somewhere a long time ago. Honest-to-God you’ve been trying, but it just doesn’t work. You know you need help to set this stranger free again.

How did the idea of ‘Hey Stranger’ project come about? When I started in portrait photography, I noticed the kind of reaction my subjects always have to seeing their portraits. Their faces would light up with a big grin, they would lean closer to the screen, head would start nodding with delight and approval. And without a fail I’d hear them say ‘This is me!’ The choice of words didn’t matter, but the meaning did. Because it’s been a long while since they last seen themselves this way, – the same way they felt inside, – joyful, vibrant, larger than life. And it made me realize that I can help my humans bridge that gap between their current inhibited selves and the stranger patiently waiting to be set free. So that they can start shedding the years of ‘appropriation’, ‘approval’, ‘common sense’, and just be, and live, and feel good again.

‘Hey Stranger’ is about setting your stranger free, and bringing them back from that locked dark and dusty room into your life to stay for good. It’s about getting to know yourself all over again, and learning to love yourself for being that beautiful stranger. And if you are thinking about starting a new chapter in your life and getting back to the world of dating, then it will become your chance to say ‘Hey Stranger’ not only to yourself, but also to another genuine soul that your stranger will help attract into your life. Because in order to understand, appreciate, accept, and love someone deeply, you need to start with yourself, learning to love and accept yourself first the same way you want to be loved by someone else.

You see, I have a gift. Even if you are allowed yourself to believe that you are the most non-photogenic, plain, uninteresting person on the planet, I know how to communicate with your stranger, and how to set them free. The day you come to my studio for your portrait session is going to feel very much like a first date gone right! In less than an hour you are going to feel super comfortable with me, and have fun. The kind you forgot exists. With bursts of genuine laugh, funny facial expressions and feeling light on your feet. And the portraits we take are going to document that transformation. The final results will be beautiful, emotive, and breaming of confidence. They will also prove to you that in someone’s eyes you can be ALL THESE THINGS. And more. With your newfound confidence and exquisite portraits you will be ready to enter the dating world right there and then. Or, if you would rather take your time thinking it through first, your portraits will be there for you, serving as a daily reminder that you are now working toward building your legacy, that you are one of a kind, that you are special, and that practicing self-love pays off many times over.

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