If you were stopped on the street and asked to pose in an intimate position with a stranger, would you do so? Photographer Richard Renaldi has been using his camera and photography skills in New York City to bring people together in just that way—with fascinating results. By intimate, I don't mean X-rated film. I mean holding hands, hugging, standing together as if they had known each other a long time rather than just walking past on the street.
The resulting photographs reveal a genuine connection between two people who were willing to step beyond their initial comfort level. This doesn't happen with absolutely everyone he photographs but with enough of them that Renaldi has said, "Everyone seems to come away with kind of a good feeling."
People who have agreed to be subjects in Renaldi's photos have been surprised by how the experience opened them up to really seeing people they otherwise would walk right past. Several have said things such as "It was nice to feel that comfort," "I felt like it brought down a lot of barriers," or "It was a good feeling."
The success of this photographer's project makes me wonder how many of us in this country are starved for connection and for touch. It makes me aware of how much we simply walk past each other on streets, in stores and in the many public places we frequent. We don't even notice others much.
We are so connected via our devices and on social media. But are we really connected with each other? It's a good question upon which to reflect because professionals in the field of social work and psychology say that connection is one of our most basic needs. What do you think?