Strangers I Know

My name is Zoe Fan, and about a year ago, I started a little project with my street photographs, to let the people around me become more conscious of the many wonderful possibilities that the strangers carry around them everyday. Photography opened my eyes to a whole new world that changes every split second, and I can only do my little part to bring others that experience too. 🙂

How it works is that I would upload photos of strangers that I captured on the streets, and then invite friends (or other strangers) to help ‘continue’ the stranger’s story. It’ll probably make better sense if you visit the tumblr 🙂


We make up stories about strangers because we are curious. We make up stories about strangers in order not to talk to them. We make up stories about strangers to re-live a fantasy. We make up stories about strangers because they remind us of ourselves. We make up stories about strangers to make them less strange. We make up stories about strangers because we like making up stories.

Now you can make up stories about strangers too, by staring at the beautiful street photography by Zoe Fan.



#1: The Resting Stranger from Chengdu, China.

Just a typical day for the Resting Stranger, who rests on top a random cart while waiting for the phone call that would take him into the depths of the city’s deepest gambling corners.

Continued by Zoe Fan (17)




#25: The Just Right Stranger

Your lowest points in life are probably the ones you should treasure the most, because only at that point you know that whatever comes up next would definitely be something better.

For him, it was a gain of a grandson, a loss of a son. But should he choose to see it in a new way, it would be a gain of a new family.

Story continued by Zoe Fan (17)




Stranger #45:

Dad can you see me from up there? I followed your footsteps and became a commando just like you hoped I would. If only you were here to see this with your own eyes and tell me how proud you are. I miss you so much. I love you Dad.

Story Continued by Tiffany Tay (17)




Stranger #47:

Distractions and musings of a three year old.

“I think I see something outside of this fence. I think it is a puppy. I like puppies. I would like to bring this puppy home. Momma’s on one of the rides again. If only I could get past this fence. If only I was older. Like momma. An older person can do anything. I’ve seen them. I’d like to be an older person. A ‘grown up’. I wonder why grown-ups like bringing me to this theme park. Why do they like playing these rides? I’m bored. I want to do what older people do. Kiddy places can’t be as fun as the things you can do when you’re a grown up. I wonder why they tell me I’m lucky. I wonder why they don’t think they’re lucky.

OH! The puppy moved! I really like this puppy.”

Story Continued by Shalene Devon (18)




Stranger #52:

hell yeah, i’m sittin on the priority seat. why? coz i’m an important passenger! suck it, teenagers!

…but because i’m old and debilitating, nobody ever sits with me. nobody likes to be so close to death.

Story Continued by Angela Low (18)




Stranger #53:

“Nobody knows that I have a secret hideout.

A place where allows me to curl myself in it, sleep and bury my woes whenever I feel lost. It gives me a sense of security and refuge whenever I was bullied.

This is how I feel safe and comforted.

The scent of orchid flowers in the distance soothe my mind at every session I sleep in here. Birds’ chirping sounds ring up memories of every touch you have given me as a child, the warmth rest my mind with every breeze that seep through my grooves.

You left me here. Lonely as it may seem but fulfilling at every time I rest here.

Every breath I take, the impression of mother seems clearer but blurrer as I get older.

I forgive you for leaving me here 18 years ago.

I will never forget, I will never leave.

I called this the “womb hole”… the place where you left me.”

Story Continued by Yanzo Seigi (38 )


Images and words by the courtesy of Zoe Fan.

About Jee Leong Koh

My book of poems Steep Tea (Carcanet) was named a Best Book of 2015 by UK's Financial Times, and a Finalist by Lambda Literary. I also wrote three other books of poems and a book of zuihitsu. My work has been shortlisted for the Singapore Literature Prize, and translated into Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, Russian and Latvian. Originally from Singapore, I live in New York City, where I edit the arts blog Singapore Poetry, and run the Second Saturdays Reading Series and the Singapore Literature Festival in NYC.


  1. Belinda Subman

    I love the photos and little stories with them.


  2. datta2014

    Really all the stories carry a lot of information and part of sadness too. The passenger aboard, prick of old age, the pensive recollections of lonely and grieved. Well depicted and the photos too .


    • Zoe

      Now that you mention, the stories really does seem to carry a tinge of sadness (or perhaps melancholy?) in them. Interesting perspective, for I have never actually come to an awareness of their melancholia before this. Thank you for your comment!


    • datta2014, I like your description of the photographs. You should contribute a story to a new photo on Strangers I Know blog. Thanks!


    • Zoe

      That’s a great idea Jee Leong!! @datta2014 it would be super amazing if you become one of the strangers i know from singaporepoetry! 😀


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