BTS: Richard Renaldi Introduces & Poses Complete Strangers on the Streets of NYC

Photographer Richard Renaldi‘s 6-year-long project Touching Strangers has been an incredible success. From viral Internet fame to a full-fledged photo book that exceeded its Kickstarter goal eight times over, there’s something profoundly moving about complete strangers posed together, sometimes quite intimately, on the streets of NYC.

In the video above we get a behind the scenes look at how Renaldi does what he does, and how his subjects, sometimes reticent at first, often wind up feeling at ease and connected to this perfect stranger they didn’t know existed 10 minutes ago.

The behind-the-scenes video was put together a couple of months ago by CBS News for their segment “OnTheRoad with Steve Hartman,” and it follows Renaldi around as he makes the magic happen.

Tari, Shawn, Summer, 2012, CA
Tari, Shawn, Summer, 2012, CA

Similar to the recent Humans of New York BTS video we shared, getting to walk around and watch Renaldi at work is both educational and inspirational. In some ways his job is harder than HONY’s Brandon Stanton: he not only has to approach complete strangers and ask to take their picture… he has to ask them to intimately pose with yet another complete stranger in the process.

It takes Renaldi some 10 minutes to get the photo he’s looking for with his massive 8×10 large format camera, and in that time some strangers remain strangers — meaning they never warm up to each other. But more surprising is the fact that many of the pairs or groups wind up feeling closer to one another.

The subjects captured on video by CBS tell Hartman everything from “it was a good feeling,” to “it was nice to feel that comfort,” to “I felt like it brought down a lot of barriers.” And that, says Renaldi, is part of the magic.

“Everyone seems to come away with kind of a good feeling,” Richard tells Hartman. “It’s kind of lovely. It’s lovely.”

Image credits: Photograph by Richard Renaldi.