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Couples meet each other for the first time on camera in 'stranger shoots'

A new social media trend has one West Michigan photographer capturing the reactions of two people meeting for the very first time in a hybrid blind date/photo shoot
Posted at 5:01 PM, Oct 06, 2020

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A new social media trend has one West Michigan photographer capturing the reactions of two people meeting for the very first time in a hybrid blind date/photo shoot.

Hailey Estill started shooting photos professionally just a few months ago. She has been working to get her business Candid Captures by Hayley off the ground in a few different ways.

Estill graduated from college with a degree in psychology and has been looking into how she can meld her passion for creative photography with her knowledge of how the human mind works.

And so, in a poetic meshing of her different skill sets, she began arranging and shooting what she calls "stranger shoots".

Estill says she is "interested in both the art and the psych behind two people meeting and getting intimate pictures taken.”

On Monday evening she let FOX 17 tag along on her latest shoot.

“They're all gonna have different outcomes, because you're just doing it with completely different people every time,” Estill said.

At this shoot, a man and a woman from Grand Rapids would meet for the very first time, as Estill hangs back and takes a series of photos that could easily be confused for an engagement shoot.

Danny and Caitlin, both in their early twenties, walked towards each other with their faces covered by bandannas.

Estill says she will often give the participants prompts while shooting, telling them to whisper different trivia facts about themselves to one another.

“So I’m going to tell you guys to go in the middle of the road there and slow dance for a minute," Estill told Danny and Caitlin during their photo shoot at Crescent Park in downtown Grand Rapids.

"And then Danny, you go first and tell her 3 things about you. And after, I want you to tell him 3 things about you."

While Estill says not every couple ends up hitting it off right away, Danny and Caitlin seemed quite smitten.

“I think I'm a pretty outgoing person, easy to get along with. So this wasn't super out of my comfort zone. I'm pretty good right now, I don't know about him," Caitlin said after the photo shoot finished up.

"The entire time I was kind of just like, Wow, she's beautiful. Like, I can't wait to get to know her," Danny added. “I hope there's something here… I mean, I have good feelings about this.”

The pair exchanged contact info before the sun went down.

“He walked her to her car, so I dont know what’s happening," Estill said after the couple had departed.

Estill says she doesn't see her playing cupid as a long-term career path, but for now she is enjoying it and looking forward to booking more "stranger shoots" in the near future.

She said, “You just never know how people are going to react. So I'm glad it went well, and I hope I get to photograph their wedding someday.”

Estill is working on putting together a questionnaire to better match people up in future shoots.

You can visit her Facebook, Instagram or website for further information or to inquire about being part of an upcoming shoot.