I saw her from behind as she entered a coffee shop and had a feeling she might make a good subject for my photo project. I caught up with her just as she completed her coffee purchase and excused myself for interrupting her coffee break but introduced myself and explained my project. She enthusiastically agreed and explained that she is a photography student at the university, just nearing the end of her second year. Meet Madi.
She asked about my project and liked the sound of it as she doctored her coffee. “I’d be happy to participate” she said with a smile. Lucky me. I thanked her, gave her my contact card, and invited her to step outside with me where there was natural light. As I photographed Madi, we were looking at the door of the university’s Image Arts Building. How appropriate. I said “You must spend a lot of time in this building” and she gave a laugh and said “No kidding.” I moved her a few steps so that a bright light fixture inside the coffee shop would not distract.
Photos taken, with the coffee shop windows in the background, we chatted. Madi is from Mississauga, a city on the western edge of the GTA (Greater Toronto Area). She is very pleased with the program she is taking and said she was on her way to a “critique.” When I asked about it, she explained that her professor and her fellow classmates were going to critique her work which is studio portraits. I explained I know nothing about studio work and she explained that it’s tricky. “It’s all about the lighting which has to be carefully arranged.”
When I asked her what else she could share about herself she said “I’m a working student. I am full time at school and I work full time as a server in a bar.” I was quite impressed that she is able to manage it all and she said it takes good organization skills and time management. I can only imagine. When I asked what it is like being a server she said the money can be good if you are working in a good location and have the right shifts. I added “I suppose having a friendly personality helps a lot too.” She smiled and agreed. I found her very friendly and generous with her limited time and could imagine her being very successful paying her way through university as a server.
Madi’s advice to her younger self is “Don’t stress so much. Things will work out.” When I asked how she deals with life’s stresses she said “I go for a run and I take photos.” Although running is not something I can do any more due to sore knees, I do cycle and can relate to exercise being a good stress reliever. As for taking photos, I commented that Robin Wong, a street photographer with an internet blogging presence, has coined the term “shutter therapy” to describe the emotional benefits of street shooting.
I asked how her friends would describe her and Madi said “Probably that I’m nice and I’m organized.” I said I would take her word for it on being organized, but I could speak to her being super-nice and thanked her for taking a few minutes to be part of my photo project.
Madi’s message to the project is simple, yet meaningful: “Respect and equality.”
Thanks again, Madi, for being part of my photo project. I hope your coffee didn’t get cold.
I wished her luck with the critique. As an afterthought, I snapped a quick photo of Madi retreating to the Image Arts Building door for the critique..
This is my 830th submission to The Human Family Group on Flickr.
You can view more street portraits and stories by visiting The Human Family.
Tagged: , Madi , portrait , stranger , hat , The Human Family , Toronto , eyes , smile