Brooklyn-based photographer Josh Katz made this 11-minute video of a social experiment he did on the streets of New York City to “turn street photography on its head.” Instead of shooting photos of strangers and walking away with the images, Katz shot Polaroids of people, handed them the picture to keep, and then tried to strike up conversations as the prints developed.
It’s usually street photography subjects that don’t know what was actually captured when they see a street photographer snap a photo, but an interesting aspect of this project is that it’s the photographer that doesn’t know what results.
“What’s crazy about this is I don’t know what that photo turned into,” Katz says. “It could be horrible, it could be great, and suddenly I feel like the invasiveness of photo-taking is now flipped onto me. I feel a little bit naked right now, I feel vulnerable.”
Katz ended up shooting 30 Polaroid street photos over the course of 5 hours and learned some interesting things about photographing strangers on the street.
“It’s been fascinating studying how when you make it more about the subject and less about you, giving them that photo, it’s a completely different emotional reaction,” Katz says. “And you see the emotional shift from angry, confused, or frustrated to then pretty happy.”