“In my spare time, I go to parks, cafés, and even bars, where I fold paper roses and give them out. I like handing them out for free — I think people need something free every once in awhile.”
“What’s your favorite part about doing this?”
“What I enjoy the most is seeing an innocent, childlike reaction on an adult’s face: ‘Oh, here‘s something free and there’s no gimmick.’ Of course, some people are suspicious, and I can understand why. Sometimes people join me and start folding paper with me, or someone tells me that they’ve had a really bad night, and I cheered them up.
“Once in a while, someone tries to give me money. I try my best to say, ‘Pass it forward. Do another good deed’, because otherwise it ends in a circle instead of making a spiral. Sometimes that’s the only way people know how to thank you, though. One time an Albanian woman insisted that I take a dollar. She would’ve gotten upset if I hadn’t, and her husband said, ‘Some people just want to thank you that way.’ So now I know when to accept money, which I use to buy more paper.”
Portraits of Boston is a project of independent photographer Ivan Velinov. He is regularly sharing some of his favorite portraits with WBUR. Visit his website to see the hundreds of portraits he has taken on the streets of Boston.