Photographing 100 Strangers with Fuji By Justin Holder

Photographing 100 Strangers with Fuji

By Justin Holder


Earlier in the year, I started what seemed like a mountain of a project, planning to meet 100 strangers over the next years, interviewing them and compiling them into a book for my two sons. The project is called “Advice For My Boys” and has ended up being not overwhelming, but an incredible journey.

Just last Friday, a couple of days before Father’s Day, I had already hit my 100th stranger since mid February.

I have a Canon 5DMKII and a host of L-lenses, but I knew that would add an intimidation factor, beyond what there would already be. So, I shot the entire project with my Fuji X100s, Fuji X-E1 and then the Fuji X-T1. As many of the other Fuji fans know, these cameras offer such incredible results, yet seem so cosmetically casual and unassuming. I could not be more pleased with the results.

Now, over 100 deep in the project, I have decided to keep going. I always ask my strangers initially three questions: happiest time of your life, toughest time of your life, one piece of advice for my boys. Amazingly, not ONE person has said no to the project.

Even more cool has been the ripple effect of it. One of my favorites, Lois, who worked at McDonald’s said, as we were sitting down to talk, “you know, this is the first time in my life I’ve ever been noticed.” I asked what she meant. “Oh, I’m just one of those people who goes through life and you don’t really notice if I’m there or not.” The next day, lots of readers of the project showed up at her McDonald’s with cards, notes, little gifts, etc. Even the president of the bank went over to see her. She emailed me that evening and said it was the best day of her life. There have been so many similar stories in this project…and I feel certain there’s not one stranger I’ve met by chance.

We’re all fans of Steve’s site because we love cameras and photography, but even more the opportunities and experiences they often allow. If you’ve been considering doing something out of the box, I’d urge you to make the leap. Yes, it’s intimidating, but the rewards greatly outweigh the risk. Cheers to all of you!

Website for the project:

Nashville NBC affiliate news story

Thanks, Steve!






  1. This is one of the most heart-felt projects I have ever read. Thank you! ( I have often thought of doing something like this for my grandchildren.) Your subjects and their responses are priceless and the resulting images are wonderful. Steve Arnold

  2. I just read one story and I know I’ll enjoy reading the others, later. Question: Did you used flash with these three images? I’m new with photography! Great work, keep on shooting.

  3. Justin this is a really inspiring project. When Scott told me about it, I thought wow what a great idea. Your images are great but the inspirational stories and motivation behind it all is what is truly the blessing here. Keep up the great work. Not only advice for your boys but a living example of something that is lacking in our society today and that’s a real connection with people.

    • Thank you! Really, I have done these interviews all over…in other states and here locally. It seems if folks see that you are genuinely interested, they’re pretty willing to share. Thankful for all those who’ve been so candid and open.

  4. So happy for the much deserved recognition you are receiving Justin!! And I’ve enjoyed reading the stories as you publish them week by week. I’ve had the x100 fever for a while but this project and a couple others have helped me decide that I need this camera in my life!

  5. I have always said talent takes many forms. Your ability to interact with these people and connect on such a personnel level is truly exceptional. I know I will be seeing more of you and your work in the future. Good luck with your book, and I am sure you have much more to contribute in the years to come.


  6. Amazing and inspirational. I love the McDonald’s woman getting some love from her community. You should be proud to be doing such an honorable project with your talents. Great photos. Can’t wait to read the book!

    • She’s been one of my very favorites! That’s been one of the most touching parts- the ripple effect of the project. Glad it made her feel special and realize her significance.

  7. Wow! How nice! Thank you guys. Appreciate these comments more than you know and appreciate that you took the time to look at my project. Best to each of you! Justin

  8. Justin, great pictures, compelling stories, congratulations on what you have achieved with this project. I read some of the stories, all were great, I was moved by Terry’s story and by your response, your boys should be proud.

  9. Hi Justin, I think I read through most of your interviews and found them really interesting. I’m quite proud that you’re from my neck of the woods. I can’t wait for your book to be published.

  10. Justin,
    There are several “100 Stranger” projects coming from a Flickr group with the same name. Are you posting your images there too? You should. Great stuff!

  11. Great concept, great images. Jealous!

    Just one comment: contrast in the image of the bearded gentleman seems harsher than in the other two portraits. I would like to see contrast similar through the whole series, difficult as that is to achieve.

    • Yes, I git very lucky on that one! He was standing under an awning with while walls on either side, which acted like reflectors in a perfect way. Plus, his face had such great lines and character. Thanks much!

  12. Great project, Justin!
    Today, when everyone and his granny are taking pictures, I think it is crucial to try to elevate you in some way. And a project like this will keep your thought-process on track and probably make a deeper/higher impact. Not to forget an interesting end-document. I think that your sons will appreciate these insights in the future regardless ways of capturing albeit technique and technical skill can be of interest too.


  13. This posting gave me a lot of inspiration. Not just daily photography inspiration but something much, much more. Thank You Justin and Steve!

  14. Justin, what a great idea! And IMO, this is what makes the “daily inspiration” category so special.

    Sure, it is cool to see what other people get out of their equipment, especially if you happen to own it yourself. But this is pure gold, where the equipment gets out of the way and it all gets down to people. Plain and simple.

    Thanks for posting.

    • Thanks Lenny- True, it’s easy to get all caught up in the gear and the latest and greatest. I have friends who track all the latest gear and can tell you specs on every model….yet never go shoot. The gear is only as great as it’s used. Thanks again, Lenny!

  15. Justin, when I read the first line, “Photographing 100 strangers”, I was like, oh, no, not another one. But your twist on this subject made it so much more, made it mean something. And the story of Lois made it touch my heart. Thanks.

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