A photographer has headed out each day for the past seven years to capture a stranger’s portrait in his diverse local community.
Brian Molyneaux set about exploring his hometown of Oakland in California armed with a Nikon D850 and a vintage f/1.4 50mm lens.
The Chicago-born photographer tells PetaPixel that the project is a great way of getting out and meeting people.
“I wanted to put my hand in someone else’s hand and say hello. It started that way and it turned into a bunch of different things,” he says.
Molyneaux says the project was “politically motivated” to begin with and a response to the division within the United States.
“I live in every diverse part of California. I think Oakland is the tenth most diverse place in the country, it’s high up on the list.”
Indeed Molyneaux’s photos show an array of colors and creeds that reflects Oakland’s diversity score which stands at 99 out of 100.
The photographer says that he doesn’t find it “super difficult” to approach people.
“I’ve only been rejected less than 90 times,” he says. Before adding: “It’s a challenge, the project is a challenge.”
Part of the motivation for Molyneaux flexing his social skills each day on the project is deeply personal.
“My mother has Alzheimer’s and it’s pretty advanced, something I read is that meeting and socializing is good for your memory and retaining your memory and staving off Alzheimer’s,” he explains.
“It became a weird homage to my mom, she’s still here, but she’s been gone for years mentally.”
Molyneaux says that he learns something every day from the project and about the people he meets.
Because he shoots with a manual, analog lens he always tries to keep within the classic restrictions of film.
“I shoot 24 photos per person maximum, I want to honor how I learned with film,” he says.
“Most of the time it’s six or seven. One dude said ‘Oh, you wanna take my photo, I’ll give you three shots.'”
Image credits: All photos by Brian Molyneaux.