Face to Face

In our digital age, connecting with others has never been more possible. We can converse with people in faraway lands, see photographs of places we’ve never physically been, and learn about customs and cultures with the click of a mouse. Though these advances have created opportunities of endless possibility, we can become overwhelmed and even isolated. How do we avert oversaturation; how do we make meaningful connections with others?

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Photographer Max James Fallon has a remedy, one that he has implemented himself on his many travels across the globe. Fallon connects with strangers by taking their photographs. And not like a paparazzo, snapping pictures of unsuspecting individuals. Fallon bridges the divide by asking people to pose for him and capturing them where they are, as featured in his book, Eye Contact: Social Networking {Face-to-Face} with a Camera.

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“My method is still social networking, but in a slower, more engaging way,” Fallon says. This methodical approach is refreshing in our era of instant gratification and express lanes, tweets and emojis. Engaging with others beyond the text box or the “Like” button is a necessity if we wish to truly connect with others, to foster empathy and gain understanding. Which is what being human is all about.

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Face-to-face interaction is key to connection, to bridging the divide and gaining understanding. And Fallon has it down to a simple process:

 

It’s as easy as:

Approach them > Introduce yourself

Start a conversation > Listen and observe

Suggest a photograph > Make a photograph

More conversation > More photographs

Connection made.

 

You may ask, And? Why would we photograph people we don’t know? As Max discovered years ago, it is a way to satisfy our curiosity about others while also honoring them and showing respect. It’s a way of expressing ourselves and capturing another’s self-expression, and maybe even inspiring others to see their fellow human beings in a more positive light in the process. But mostly, it is a way to cultivate connection—if only for a moment.

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With the holidays approaching, we begin to take stock of what matters to us. This time of year encourages us to let people know how much we care about them, to spread the good cheer and love. To what end? To forever expanding the community that surrounds us, to forever creating more and more links that bind us to one another. Fallon’s method of photographing strangers can assist us in these endeavors of creating a greater community. Happy Holidays!

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Max James Fallon has spent most of his career as an advertising agency print production director, but the last dozen years have been dedicated to documentary portraiture. His two previous books are Striking Poses (2006) and Couples: An Eclectic View (2010). He has a BFA from the Rochester Institute of Technology, and an MA from San Francisco State University. His photography has been exhibited in New York, Los Angeles, England, and San Francisco. Max lives in San Francisco, California. www.mustseebooks.com

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