31 Photos - Jul 23, 2011
Photo: Photo: Hello G+! Her is another update of my series "Triptychs of Strangers" where the goal is to “meet strangers - get to know them - take three personality-matching shots - make them one"

About this shot
Again, Soho in Hong Kong. I was looking for a specific place I wanted to return to. As I couldn't find the place I decided to ask locals to lead me the way. Our stranger was on a shipping spree with a friend and they really looked like they knew where they were going. The whole but short conversation was amazing and fun. "Anything else you like to know - We don't mind - Ask us anything" … But in this very moment I was quite satisfied with the directions so I moved on.

After a few minutes I realized that this was a quite stupid thing to do. Talking to them was cool and they sort offered me their lives. Damn, I really wasn't in this let's call it "stranger-on" mode. I described this feeling as a metamorphosis from being a nun to a whore (no offense) at a very early stage of this project. And after so many encounters of a triptic kind - I still feel a sense of insecurity whenever I start again. I often lose it after letting one or two interesting strangers passing by :-(

I was glad to have met them again one hour later.

About this stranger
Welcome Vinchee, everyone. 20 years old and a student of radio production (really don't know what that is). Vinchee lives in corner called Shueng shui, New Territories.

I would describe her as a very open, funny and willing person ... Especially because I practically shoot her twice. The first place was too busy and I didn't like the traffic in the background. After checking the pictures I asked her whether it would be possible to do it again somewhere else. You might recognize the small alley in the background we found - way better.

She likes fashion and loves to mix western fashion with rare to find cute individual elements. But she would never refer herself to Kawaii http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kawaii - a japanese term I learned about last year in Tokyo

Some more trivia: She is a fan of cosplay http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cosplay - at the last convention she wore a costume of Catwoman.

She also likes oil painting and reading novels. Novels like westside's Harry Potter or eastside's traditional Hong Kong novels.

Hong Kong speaking of which. She told me she is a girl from Hong Kong, but she is not a Hong Kong Girl ……………???……………. Yeah, that's exactly what I thought. But she explained it somehow like this: Imagine you met a girl. You both fall in love but after a while you feel being treated like a chinese dumpling … I mean you get dumped by her.

Well that's that a typical behavior for a Hong Kong Girl as soon as she knows you are as poor as a church mouse (german phrase) - she will leave you. Vinchee is not that kind of girl. But I really wonder why her relationship status is still complicated. Maybe this hints to that there are not enough guys in china who understand the obvious.

Or is china just smaller than we think?

So what's the thing in the middle. All I know is - I could never … Not even if they were fresh. Yes they are not .... "Century Egg is a Chinese cuisine ingredient made by preserving duck, chicken or quail eggs in a mixture of clay, ash, salt, lime, and rice hulls for several weeks to several months, depending on the method of processing." > http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Century_egg. Yes, and she just bought those, also looking to forward to eat them soon. I was told she is totally in love with these sweet eggs how she described them.

A wonderful and long encounter. Thanks to Vinchee for her patience and a special thanks to her best friend Holman helping out with answers and questions.

Who else could our strangers #28 be than "The Century Egg loving Girl from Hong Kong"
#PlusPhotoExtractPhoto: Triptychs of Strangers #1, The IslanderPhoto: Triptychs of Strangers #2: The Leg-Stretcher, Paris - Full Story > http://goo.gl/8CQnDPhoto: Triptychs of Strangers #3: The Cyclist ParisPhoto: Triptychs of Strangers #4 - The CouplePhoto: Triptychs of Strangers #5: The way too honest Parisian, Montmartre - ParisPhoto: Photo: Triptychs of Strangers #7: France got talent > Full story: http://goo.gl/jnQbOPhoto: Photo: Triptychs of Strangers #9: The German - Paris > Full story: http://goo.gl/hiCFtPhoto: Triptychs of Strangers #10: The Photographer: Full Story > http://goo.gl/p18j9Photo: Triptychs of Strangers #11, The Hungry Typograph > Full story: http://goo.gl/0Wfc1Photo: Triptychs of Strangers #12 - The Player, Hamburg > Full story: http://goo.gl/qbX1UPhoto: Triptychs of Strangers #13, The Couple II  > Full story: http://goo.gl/mMhWYPhoto: Photo: Triptychs of Strangers #15, The Formidable Dancer > Full story: http://goo.gl/LbeC9Photo: Triptychs of Strangers #16, The Expressive Actor > Full story: http://goo.gl/PXep4Photo: Triptychs of Strangers #17, The Cautious Doubter > Full Story: http://goo.gl/O22W2Photo: Triptychs of Strangers #18, The Revolutionary Security Guard > Full Story: http://goo.gl/4WSd0Photo: Triptychs of Strangers #19, The Sunday Faced Cupholder > Full story: http://goo.gl/234CePhoto: Triptychs of Strangers #21, The Appreciative Rough Sleeper - London > Full story: http://goo.gl/sreuXPhoto: Triptychs of Strangers #23, The Kharise Francis herself > Full story: http://goo.gl/74rZOPhoto: Triptychs of Strangers #22, The Ageless Sunday Lady > Full Story: http://goo.gl/NxyqSPhoto: #for-hipsters #PlusPhotoExtract

+++ Triptychs of Strangers #24, The Constant Friend - Berlin +++

Story about this shot
It has been a long time again. I planned to continue working on this project at the beginning of october, but things turned out differently - as always. This is the second out of two strangers I did during the last three days … and in this month. And it's the first stranger I did in Berlin, Friedrichshain to be exact. I met our stranger yesterday after having a break from an extensive bike trip with a friend.

About dog holder in this project
I wanted to do a dog holder from the very beginning of this series. I had three attempts … #Fail. #Fail. #Fail.

Because three out of four dogs take their masters for a walk - they never obeyed.

I talked to these two because of the fact that this dog was taking out off leash in a very crowded area. A small hint of a classic division of roles between dog and master ;-)

Dog holder - check!

About this stranger
Meet Basti, 32 years old - from Munich. He has been living in Berlin for about three years now. It was nice talking to him - he was very open and has a wonderful dry sense of humour.

Basti loves to cook and is probably the best guy to be guest at a dinner. No matter what you are: Vegetarian, vegan oder carnivore.

He is a qualified business man and owned a bike shop for about 9 years. But he now works as a snowboard teacher. Munich might be the better spot to live as a snowboard teacher. But Munich is Munich and Berlin is Berlin. My choice would be Berlin, too.

Unfortunately with every season he has to take leave … the next working period of three months starts in just two weeks. Goodbye Berlin ...

Is there a someone who has to deal with all this? He met a girl a couple of weeks ago … both are really excited and looking forward to what happens next. That's all he could say about it.

He did a lot during the last years - not only job related? But there has been a constant in his life through all these years. A dog he took 10 years ago from a spanish animal shelter. Named simply after what the dog is to him: Amigo.

The secret star of triptych #24 must be Basti's best friend and center of his life: Amigo.

Who else could he be than "The Constant Friend"Photo: Triptychs of Strangers #25, The Graffitect - Berlin

Story about this shot
This shot was taking in Berlin, district Prenzlauer Berg. The location name Mauer Park (Wall Park) is referring to its status as a former part of the Berlin Wall and its Death Strip. I saw him spraying a small section of the wall and I came up with this idea immediately.

About this stranger
Meet Georg, 30 years old and he is first real Berliner I met in this project.

He is playing basketball in a club called Empor, very famous in Berlin btw.

Hip-Hop is the music genre of his choice. The combo of the moment is Doppelgangaz … I looked them up and I think this song here is dope and had to be added to my own library immediately. http://youtu.be/cECvPIL-J8I

You might have noticed that he is a graffiti artist. Georg has been spraying for more than 15 years. I had to ask him whether he got busted in the past! Three times - first time at the age of sixteen. But luckily he could manage to get off the hook every time. Thanks to his supportive parents and outstanding negotiation skills of his lawyers.

When things started to become more and more complicated he decided to find a way to pursue his hobby without adding too much thrill to his general stress level. Luckily he found a way to do his art and earn some money too as a semi-pro graffiti artist.

Georg is great example that graffiti artists actually love architecture. He likes the works of Ando (http://goo.gl/YP0m1) or Zaha Hadid-Deren, Frank Gehry, Frank l. Wright or Ludwig Mies van der Rohe.

It seems like he is going to be one of them - he is a student of architecture. Can't wait to see his works in a few years …

Who else could he be than "The Graffitect"

#PhotoPlusExtractPhoto: Triptychs of Strangers #26, The Fingercounting Violonist

About this shot
You might have seen his portrait a couple of days ago, I liked it so much and simply had to post it as well.

This was taken during a lunch break two weeks ago. At that time I had not talked to a stranger for almost three weeks. Most of you know you have to grow balls with every street session. I took me five minutes to ask for a triptych composition I already had in mind by then.

You all know usually there's not much time. But in this case there was no need to hurry - this guy was playing violin for money and therefore not moving for a while.
Sounds like a quite easy street shoot, doesn't it? Well it was not, our stranger #26 spoke neither german nor english :-)

About this stranger
Meet, Peterica. He is 61 years old and originally from Bukarest, Romania. 2 years ago he came to Hamburg with his 1 wife and his 4 younger kids in the hope of finding a better life. He is and has always been an musician, he started playing violin at the age of 6, which makes 55 years in total. He has also given violin classes for 40 years in his hometown.

His favorite song could be "O sole mio", at least he was playing it most of the time.

What else can I say … yeah, how did we actually talk? Well, the answer is: I have an app for that > http://bit.ly/rEFoFa 

And now guess how he gave me the answers ;-)

Our strangers #26 can only be "The Fingercounting Violonist"

#PlusPhotoExtractPhoto: Triptychs of Strangers #27, The warm-hearted Giver - Hong Kong

About this shot
On my last day in Hong Kong. I had a time slot to roam in Soho (Hong Kong Island). So I decided to seize the opportunity and bring the project to the city.

I looked for a spot and waited for our stranger to come. It took me a while to convince her that this project doesn't aim to portray models. You might know I always try looking for all sorts of interesting characters and I thought she is one of those and I was not disappointed after our session of approximately 30 minutes. But decide for yourself …

About this stranger
Meet, Jessie. Who is in her thirties and has been working as an accountant for about ten years. She likes her job but hates those periods when work piles up and there is basically no time for the things she likes the most.

Like doing handcrafted plush toys (like the rabbit in the middle). She has being doing this for ages and seems to be genius with her sewing machine.

Like taken photographs. Sounds familiar :-)

Like traveling. She has visited a few of the most desirable mega cities in asia ... Tokyo, Seoul or Taipei. Her first stop in Europe would be Paris - how come I was not surprised by this?

Where ever she stopped while traveling so far she has been always looking out for a locality referred as Cat Cafe. Imagine your favorite cafe around the corner to be packed with playing, purring and cuddling cats. I had never heard of such a place and I listened to her stories with big eyes. I can't deny I was under the impression she has a weakness for cats ;-)

Even though she doesn't own a cat herself. But her friends do …

If you are a friend of Jessie's and own a cat you might see her more often than necessary. And you would also have to get used to see her behind a lens most of the time. Yes, you might not always be the centre of universe while she visits you. But as long as you have a great selection of those handcrafted plush toys you can be sure of one thing … Jessie loves you.

She lives in an area called New Territories in the North of Hong Kong. She told me it is a great place to live especially because the low rental prices and good transportation opportunities to the other two main areas in Hong Kong. What happens to be Kowloon and Hong Kong Island. I was curious about the size of her flat: 700 square feet (65 square meters). But she doesn't live alone … As long as she is waiting for her Prince Charming she choses to stay with the people with the greatest selection of handcrafted plush toys: her parents.

I really enjoyed the way she told me all these things. Very honest, quite understated but always funny and ironic. Thanks for this.

Who else could our strangers #27 be than "The warm-hearted Giver"
#PlusPhotoExtractPhoto: Triptychs of Strangers #29: The highly recommended Mekong Expert - Ho Chi Minh City

About this shot
After I spend 4 days in the countryside of the Mekong Delta, Ho Chi Minh City was a great surprise. I loved the place for having wide streets, more than 10° degrees and yes traffic lights.

I was striving through the let's call it city-centre of Ho Chi Minh City on my last day in Vietnam. I met our stranger in front of Municipal Theatre, he was sitting on a bench reading and drinking iced green tea.

About this stranger
I'd like to introduce you to Mambo. He is 24 years old and lives in a village in the Mekong Delta.

He was not too enthusiastic about Ho Chi Minh City. In his humble opinion a far too noisy, big, busy and unresting place. If it wasn't for his mission he wouldn't be here that often.

And he - as a self described sometimes silent type - rather seeks respite in an oasis of calm, natural harmony and peaceful life:
The Mekong Delta. He likes to invite you all on a trip starting with a free drink and your own Non La (that traditional conical hat) on riverboats for an excursion across small less touristic river branches of the Mekong. Through islands covered with lush flora and small rural communities.

You will have the opportunity to visit floating markets and stay overnight at a local house. You will also learn how they produce coconut candy, honey tea, rice noodles and of course rice wine (be careful here). This is just a selection of his ideal of a perfect trip through the Mekong ;)-

Already pretty much for one or two days? I am pretty sure he will always find the right time for you to take a rest. I would always recommend to take a nap in a hammock, they are part of most restaurant's inventory in the south of Vietnam.

No doubt, Mambo is a great tourist guide, even though it might take him another two years to finish studying tourism. "I won't be like other tourist guides, I prefer only small groups and individual private tours. I have a lot more passion than others but I would never work myself to death. I always needed time to give myself some rest … and so I will do in the future"

His family is not rich but luckily he is the only son out of five who has been able to study.

Mambo is into water sports and he had a quite active past as a swimmer. But studying and working to be able to finance all this kept him away from this to long.

He also loves to read and the book he is holding in the middle is his favorite novel The Quiet American by Graham Greene - a story about friendship, love and war in Indochina situated in Saigon and the Mekong Delta. I didn't read it myself, but how this story takes it's time and describes the tension years before the vietnam war started.

Back to the life in the Mekong: most of the things here are done not by car, bike on foot, but by boat. And that's why this is the perfect place for Mambo. He suffers from Polio and is palsied from hip to foot. Polio is caused by a virus which can be spread from person-to-person primarily through faecal contamination of food and water. It affects mainly children under five years of age, in his case when he was two years old.

But as far as he has come already shows us how he is capable to overcome any obstacles. How can we even speak of a handicap here?

<i>"Who else can our stranger #29 be than The highly recommended Mekong Expert"</i>

#PlusPhotoExtractPhoto: Triptychs of Strangers #30: The Blue Inked Red Dzao, Taphin Village - Sapa

About this shot
It was my last day in Sapa and I rented a motorbike to visit a village called Taphin. This place is known to be a Red Dzao place but as I learned there are Black Hmong people living there too. It has not always been like that - those two tribe living in one place. But for about a decade these nice people are more tolerant among each other and even cross tribe marriages are possible.

About this stranger
Meet Jaa, she is 56 years old and a member of an ethnic group known as Red Dzao. If you ever meet a Red Dzao in the streets ;-) you might recognize them from their beautiful red turbans (they come in many forms) and these iconic clothes. Addionally as a Red Doa woman Jaa has her eyebrows and forehead shaved off - she told me that this is traditionally regarded as a sign of beauty.

Her english was remarkable and in general the english of any other hill tribe member around Sapa is actually better than the english of the people in Hanoi.

Jaa has a husband and five kids (four girls and one boy). They make their living from cultivating corn and rice, but since they have seasonal weather in this subtropical area of vietnam they learned to market themselves …. their handcrafting skills to be exact. Means they sell metal or silver bracelets, bags, scarf or any sewed and embroidered type of clothes you can imagine.

What wondered me the most is their persisting style of selling their stuff. As soon as you enter a village of hill tribe they follow you all the way through the village … I knew this from other villages and I know I could have sent them off easily, but I pretty much enjoyed Jaa's company. The way she introduced me to everyone and giving me informations about her view on life in general was mind-blowing. Buying a souvenir in the end was pretty much a win win situation here.

By the way hand made goods are only sold by the woman - her husband always stayed at home and was looking after their children and now helping out with their children's children. I am under the expression that only this is the reason why the woman speak english so well, know how to write while the men can't.

I bet she has been inking cloth a couple of days ago. You must know they use indigo plants to give their clothes this deep dark blue. Without any precautions made you can expect your fingers to be blue for a coupe of days.

Who else can our strangers #30 be than "The Blue Inked Red Dzao"Photo: Triptychs of Strangers #31: The contracted Bricklayer, Balat - Istanbul

About Istanbul
Damn, i just love this place :-)

About this shot
The coolest things about platforms like Flickr or G+ is not only to show your work to a greater audience, but also to connect to people. After my first visit in Istanbul six months back, I knew I'll have to come back soon. Knowing that I asked around if some locals wanted to participate in a photo walk.
I was really happy that +Kurtcebe Kirecci and +Serap Sabah joined us for a whole day. Definitely the best "blind date" I ever had.

I met our stranger while walking through a district called Fatih. Thanks to +pamela ross for giving me a heads-up on this character.

About this stranger
Meet Sakir Cicek. He is 36 years old and another living prove that THEY are no isolated cases in Istanbul: bearded men.

Sakir told us that he is married to a beautiful wife and proud father of three girls and three boys. He also is almost vegetarian (thumbs up) and his favorite dish is rice, beans with yoghurt.

He loves wearing baseball hats. And if you have a closer look a his headshot, you might have asked yourself if he likes collecting golden coins.

60% of buildings in Istanbul are dilapidated. So being in construction like Sakir means there is a shitload of work to for probably the next 2-3 decades. But this guarantee of permanent work put him into the position to live in Istanbul in a shared apartment with ten colleagues.

While his wife and six children still live about 1200km away in a town called Erzürum. :-(

Who else can our strangers #31 be than "The contracted Bricklayer"