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Photographer Challenges Social Norms by Touching Strangers in New York City

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NYC-based photographer Joy Mckinney has spent most of her life conforming to the norms she believed to be “socially correct.” Her latest series, The Guardian, is about breaking through those norms and her own socially guarded personality in order to interact with strangers on the streets of New York in a real and meaningful way.

The short version is that she goes up to strangers and, with their approval, simply touches their face with her hand as she photographs them. Seventy four strangers later, and Mckinney has been pleasantly surprised at what she’s found to be true of most people:

I am able to see via the photograph what I believed about strangers was in fact false, and that often times people are accepting and willing to share … The photographic work serves as a triumph and personal achievement to my ability to let go of my judgments and fears in order to share with another human being in both space and time.

Of course, she does often encounter people who aren’t willing to participate — some might see this project as just plain weird — but, for her, The Guardian is as much about the experiment of breaking the socially accepted barriers of personal space and her own comfort zone as it is about the photos she has created:

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To see more of Mckinney’s work, both from this and the other projects she has put together over the years, head over to her website by clicking here.

(via Feature Shoot)


Image credits: Photographs by Joy Mckinney and used with permission.