Thursday, 12 March 2015


I understand that personal breakthroughs are just that... personal.  So while these things have felt like HUGE deals to me at the time, there was no fanfare and (thankfully, I think) no confetti dropped from the ceilings, and no crowds cheered in exultation.

(Fancy words this morning, no?)

Although the Book of Face (aka evil) is still a place that causes me much angst and frustrates me, the reason Jason suggested I sign up was to be able to interact with photographers from around the world in a way we were not so able to do pre-internet.  So last week, Jason recommended I connect with a street photographer that he thinks is very talented.  He told me he had let the guy know who I was and asked if he'd take a look at my work and then told me to go say hi.

I... wanted to run away and hide.  Yes.. saying hello in a facebook message to a stranger is that uncomfortable for me.  But I said hello and encouraged by the fact that Jason said this fellow liked my work, I asked a few questions and started to look at his work.  And I was totally inspired.

This sounds odd to say but there was something familiar feeling about his work and as I looked through it both on FB and on Flickr, I felt suddenly relieved.  Like somehow this was a style that I could see somewhat in my own work.

That weekend (last weekend?) was one of our particularly sunny (if not brisk, hello Spring) weekends and I felt really inspired by Jason and this photographer's comments and support and I wanted to try to push myself over what I keep calling my "shyness" around street photography and shooting people I don't know in general.

It wasn't even easy that first time in Burning Man... took me until the final day to get up the nerve to ask people if I could take their photo.  And that's only part of what I want to do.  Yes, I want to take portraits of strangers but I also want to document life... and people and what's interesting and unique and all the beautiful images and stories I see as I wander around.

It's one thing to have a zoom lens and take a photo of someone from a block or half a block away but with the 50mm lens I'm using now (short... doesn't zoom at all) if the person's going to be bigger than an ant, I have to be near them.  Which means they know I'm there most likely. And that makes me uncomfortable.

I'm worried that I'll bug them... weird them out... upset them... invade their privacy/space/quiet time.  I don't want to annoy people but people tend to notice when someone's looking at them.  Basically, I don't want to piss someone off by taking their photo.

Add to that the fact that I'm worried about light and composition and sharpness and all the rest and it's a daunting task.

But I went out... and I didn't get too far on my walk before I saw a young gentleman sitting in the sun on the steps of the local church playing his guitar and my brain whispered to me that I could probably maybe take a photo of him, because he was playing music in public after all and therefore probably didn't mine people noticing him.  Since he wasn't playing alone in his living room he probably didn't mind attention.  So I stopped.  Took a photo.  Realized I wanted to get closer, but was scared because I knew he'd see me if I did and I didn't really want him to know and have to deal with that but I did it anyway... I moved myself to right in front of him and took some shots.  He did notice.  He looked up and then back at his guitar and I smiled and waved and went on my way but you guys?  It was indimidating.

All in my head, sure, but still.  It wasn't the hardest thing I've ever done, but it was scary.  And I'm proud that I did it and know I wouldn't have a year ago.  Or six months ago even.  Heck, I wouldn't have done it last week for pete's sake!

I got home, all stoked about the shot and it really wasn't all that amazing.  Yes, it was amazing to me because I'd stood in front of a person and taken a photo of them and I did that.  I did that! 

I posted the photo online and got no comments or reactions to it and that made me cry.  No, I think what made me cry was the emotional turmoil/stress I'd gone through and it feeling like such a huge deal.  It was very emotional putting that shot out and I tried to explain that to Jason but I'm not sure if he understood.

The photo itself was not that well framed and I think my hands were shaking so much it was crooked and a tad blurry but hey... I'll always remember taking that photo, even if it's not an award winning superstar of a shot.


Blogger Jonathan said...

I love this. I had forgotten how much I enjoy reading your thoughts. You process SO MUCH compared to me.

I often take photos on railway platforms, and on trains while travelling with work. I don't know why - I think maybe your brain becomes tuned to particular scenes.

Thursday, March 12, 2015 8:35:00 am  
Blogger Jason Langlois said...

Always happy to hear about you extending yourself, trying new things, and taking these kinds of risks.

Honestly, the photo might not get the recognition, but from the sounds of it ... well, it is fully a superstar of a shot.

Thursday, March 12, 2015 9:58:00 am  
Blogger Victoria said...

Good point Jonathan, some things are much more familiar :)

Thanks Jason :)

Thursday, March 12, 2015 9:10:00 pm  

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