In 2010, I was given an assignment by my high school photography teacher that required us to photograph strangers out in public. After he showed us the work of Mary Ellen Mark, I excitedly went out and took portraits of biker gangs in North Shore and the large homeless population that makes up O'ahu. It was exhilarating to connect with complete strangers and bond with them within a matter of minutes. I quickly fell in love with the concept of this assignment and grew deeply fascinated by the untold stories of everyone around me. I wanted to give a voice to as many people as I could, but mainly to those that were often overlooked and misjudged. This desire urged me to start my 365 Strangers Project. Those days turned into months and those months turned into years, and 5, 6 years later, I'm still photographing and interviewing people almost every day.
Dominic, 23 years old. Honolulu, Hawai'i. February 10, 2013. Piece of advice? "Do what thou wilt. Be humble, keep compassion in life natural and love one another."
Pake Zane. Honolulu, Hawai'i. April 6, 2013. Piece of advice? "Every person born in Hawai'i should travel the world so that they can appreciate the island more."
Christchurch, New Zealand. June 2, 2016. "You talk too fast."
Karlos. Christchurch, New Zealand. May 7, 2016. "Play music."
Name Unknown. September 21, 2015. Ventura, California. "I've had my picture taken more times than I can count!"
Venice Beach. August 29, 2016.
Jerry Beyer, 32 years old. Venice Beach, California. August 29, 2016. Weirdest day of his life? "I have a couple of weird ones, but my weirdest would probably be when I was walking around town naked. I wanted to take it to the next level of total surrender and freedom. It was also surprisingly legal and the cops only checked to see if I was crazy."
Melody Baker, 63 years old. Santa Barbara, California. July 2016. "I rescued my dog, but he really rescued me. I throw birthday parties for him every year."
Louise, 73 years old. Los Angeles, California. November 1, 2014. "I own purple everything. I wear purple every day."
Star Child. November 1, 2014.
Brian and Fiona. Minneapolis, Minnesota. Happiest day of Brian's life? "Having her."
Kerry, 56 years old. Christchurch, NZ. May 8, 2016. "From a very young girl, mum moved us all the time and I was about 11 or 12 when I first saw gypsy buses on the road. You know that thing about people wanting to run away with the circus? I wanted to run away with gypsies. When I first entered my 50's, I had a big wake up call and I thought, 'What am I doing with my life? I've gotta do this.' A huge journey with my sickness has been my motivator for following my true passion and here I am. So I've done it! My bus is called the Pheonix because the Pheonix is a story of new life coming from something dying. I spent a lot of time and energy and love and got this legal and on the road and it's just a little beauty. "
Tinna, 45. Christchurch, New Zealand. May 7, 2016. Piece of advice? "Learn to embrace life, don't sweat the small stuff and don't be in a hurry." If it was her last day on earth, she would.. "Oh my god.. What would I do?! I think the 3 craziest things that I could do would be to run naked somewhere, eat a whole bag of lollies in one go and randomly go up and kiss a man."
Brian, 40 years old. November 1, 2014. Los Angeles, California. "Travel and study aboard."
Betty McCarroll, 84 years old. March 28, 2011. Mililani, Hawai'i. "If you take a picture of me, it's gonna break your camera!"
Gino, 65 years old. Honolulu, Hawai'i. March 31, 2013. "Work hard, achieve your goals, pursue what you want to do in life and don't let anyone tell you different. They told me not to go into show business, but look at me now."
Yuuli, 24 years old. Honolulu, Hawai'i. May 27, 2013.
Michael Lampey. Victorville, California. April 8, 2015. Owner of "Py-Rats" and member of The Fraternal Order of Real Bearded Santas". Piece of advice? "Hold on tight to your dreams."
Angel, 38 years old. Waikiki, Hawai'i. June 5, 2015. "How'd you break your leg" "I broke it doing this. Well, doing this the wrong way." Weirdest day of her life?
"When my boyfriend at the time, who eventually became my husband, found out that my mom was his eccentric 7th grade science teacher. She remembered him as the kid that broke into her classroom and accidentally hurt himself from doing so."
Dayna Samuels, 17 years old. Ventura, California. January 24, 2015. "I like going down here and reading a book when I'm having a bad day." Piece of advice? "Tell people what you need to tell them and tell them now." Happiest day of her life? "I woke up really early and watched the sun rise and decided to walk all over downtown. I did absolutely nothing, but everything at the same time. I walked down to the beach at the end of the day and watched the sunset."
Morgan, 17 years old. Ventura, California. September 24, 2016. Piece of advice?
"Always give people second chances." Happiest/saddest/weirdest day of her life?
"I guess my weirdest was going to India for 10 days. I went there with my family for a wedding." If it was her last day on earth, she would.. "Go to Six Flags with my boyfriend." "But what if it was during a zombie apocalypse?" "Then I'd eat macaroons all day."
Hercules AKA Hawaiian Santa. Wahiawa, Hawai'i. December 24, 2016. I met him yesterday at the Queen's Medical Center when he suprised his nurse on her last day of work in his Santa costume. "I dressed up for her to make her day special." I tagged along with him today when he came up to sing for Wahiawa General Hospital's retirement home with his choir. He also does shows for foster children and other hospitals. He was a regular Santa for 20 years in the Waipahu Christmas Parade until the former Hawaiian Santa passed away. "I told his daughter that I would do this until my very last breath." Piece of advice? "I would give everyone the gift of Aloha. Alo, which means face to face and Ha, which means breath of life. The more you share the same breath, you feel the true essence of Aloha, which creates Ohana." Favorite part of Christmas?
"My favorite part about Christmas is that it's year round. My slogan is Aloha Mele Kalikimaka because I try to make everyone smile every day."
Jesus Alvarez, 56 years old. Oxnard, California. June 29, 2015. Owner of Red Barn Produce. "Come back and bring your friends!"
Unknown. Wahiawa, Hawai'i.
Mike, 45 years old. Victorville, California. March 20, 2016. "Do the best you can."