Earlier this week I decided that I was going to start a new project. I'm calling the project $2 portraits and the project works like this. From this week going forward until the day that I die I am going to offer $2 to anyone who asks me for money in exchange for their portrait. While I'm taking their portrait I'm going to ask their name and try to learn a little bit about them. I plan on doing this for the rest of my life -- assuming that I can afford to.
To make things easier I'm putting $2 in reserve money in a special place in my wallet so that even if I don't have change I will always have the $2 to hand over.
In part I'm undertaking this project because I realize that I've been avoiding people asking me for money. My biggest motivation behind this project however is simply that I think human interaction is a good thing. I'm not doing this to exploit homeless people or show how hard and bad life can be. I'm doing this because I want to celebrate other human beings as human beings and I think that this commercial transaction gives us an opportunity to engage and interact on a more human level... and I also think that I can take a pretty decent portrait.
After deciding to do this earlier this week I came across the first person asking me for money earlier today. His name is Christopher and that is his portrait at the top of this post.
Christopher has lived in the San Francisco Bay Area for about 10 years. He's originally from Illinois. He's 35 years old. Christopher is a father and he has three teenage kids who also live in the Bay Area.
I offered Christopher $2 but he asked me for $2.15. He said that a Deluxe Bacon cheeseburger at Jack in the Box was $4.15 and he already had $2. So I gave him $2.15.
Christopher seemed pleased to have his portrait taken and as soon as we were done took off towards Jack in the Box.
Update: Some people have asked me if it would be ok if they start their own version of this project as well. I think that is great and believe that frequently the best projects become collaborative. With that in mind I've created a new $2 Portraits group on Flickr. If you'd to feel free to join the group and post your own $2 portraits there.