Friday, March 14, 2008

A Picture is Worth Five Dollars

In case any of you guys didn't know, Evelyn has been heavy into photography for a while, and a lot of it has rubbed off on me over the years. Back when I lived in Jacksonville, I started developing an idea for a book of which I brought up again and revised the idea with Evelyn last night.

The original idea was to go out and pay random homeless people $5 to let me take their picture and to tell me an interesting story, and eventually I would collect enough decent ones to put into a book for publishing. It didn't take long to realize that I was never going to actually perform on this one, whether the culprit was laziness or just a general fear of homeless people, I'll never be sure.

Our ideas last night were, I believe, on the verge of something greater. This is how it will work:

Step 1 - Find a random name and address from somewhere in this great United States. Mail that person $5 and a letter with an explanation and request for their picture, along with a story if they so choose. There will always be the option of them just throwing away the letter and keeping the money, but I'm still paying them pretty well for their time and energy.

Step 2 - There will be a website,, which will be a hub for people to visit who have either received my $5 request or are interested in helping with the project themselves. To become an official "member" of the site, you need only to mail me a five dollar bill, which will in turn have its serial number recorded, and sent right back out to a random address with the picture request.

Step 3 - Every single submission we receive back will be posted for viewing on the site as a potential entry into the book and is available for voting upon only by paid members. If the entry that was sent back was a result of their personal money, their name will be printed at the bottom of that entry's page in the actual book. All submissions will be saved digitally on the website, and every submission we receive that was obtained through a member's personal money will have its original documents mailed to that said member. So in theory, it is possible to have the submission you "paid for" get printed in the book, you have the book on your coffee table one day, and you can say look, "I did this; here's the original. See my name there?"

I've still got a few kinks to work out of the plan, but I think it will work. Just wanted to get some feedback from some of the harshest critics I know: my bitches.


Chase said...

Jed,I've always liked this idea.

It reminds me of Found, but not so much as to be a bad thing. Donna and I keep a box of things we've found in books we've bought: photos,plane tickets, and personal letters among other things. We like to imagine the stories behind the pictures or what the people are like who write these letters. I think you're idea would bring all of this together.

I think the website would bring order to the project. You could run things like review me, free membership, but pay after you can review their photo/story. that way you get what you want for sure. also, I thought you might could find and invite people who's pictures you like for this from off sites like photobucket.

I'll think.

PS-proudly your numero uno el bitcho!

Jared said...

The general idea is to try and change the way people feel about having their picture taken. There's a real problem with people being really uptight about having their mug shot in public, when typically the best pics are of candid persons. There will be a short FAQ on this with every request sent out, trying to put these people in a situation where they have to think about having their picture submitted and how much their privacy is really worth to them.

Justin said...

I think it's a great idea. I think that every person has at least one or two really interesting stories to tell. I would love to be able to visit a website like that.

It's a really fresh idea, and I think it could really take off.

Jeff Watkins said...

I just want to know how I can be involved, help take credit for the idea, but not actaully do any work.

Seriously, this is a good idea.

Apparently, your numero quatro el bitcho.

Chase said...

In this comment when you explained the general idea, I was more intrigued by that. I think that is an idea worth investing time and money into. Pro-humanity, anti-happy shiny people. I was thinking that either approaching people directly, as you first pitched, or working with a team of other people to do this might work best but what do I know? Either way, you should do it. Experiment with the different ideas and see what you come up with. I'll hit the streets if you like, I'd like to assist this project along.

P.S. Jeff, if you are bitch number 4, who are numbers 2 and 3?

Jeff Watkins said...

I was thinking out of four, I guess it would only be out of three. Where is Evelyn on the list?

I am not calling her that, for the record.

Jared said...

What if I said there was only two bitches? Would you guys wrestle over the honor?

Chase said...

Would I?

I've already called dibs on first chair-bitch.

But, of course if this required wrestling I would wrestle for the honor.

Also, I would wrestle just for the honor of wrestling. No other prize warranted.