Random New York Street Portraits

Tom Erikson

I make contact with a passerby who interests me with the introduction: "Hello, my name is Tom Erikson and I'm a photographer from San Francisco making a set of random street portraits." Then I hold up my camera, demonstrating that I'm serious about my mission, and I tilt the top toward my subject, pointing at the illuminated frame number display, and asking; "Would you be random street portrait number 23?" (for example) This makes it real for them. They are being given the chance to be something - in this case, number 23. Often they seem a bit non-plussed, and ask, "What do I have to do?" "Just look at me for five seconds," is my response.