Richardson says that if you can't explain your purpose directly you may have to resort to "subterfuge." In both Kansas and China, for example, he has found himself in the position of trying to convince a schoolteacher to be photographed along with her pupils. "Both times I told her that the kids wouldn't behave if she didn't stand there with them," he recalls. "That way, she didn't have to be officially shy." Other times, says Richardson, he has made himself as "boring" as possible. "If you hang around long enough, don't talk much, and look a little dumb, people give up on you as entertainment and go back to business," he explains. But the photographic payoff for that patience is big. "It's a spine-tingling moment when someone starts to open up for me," he says, "and I realize that they're speaking through me to others they will never know, by letting me intrude into their life. It's a gift."