I’m gonna admit it. Most days I’m a photographic coward. I tend to shoot subjects that I’m comfortable with and in situations that I’m confident I can handle. I’m sure that I’m not alone in having a “photographic comfort zone” and I know that others suffer from this “fear” as well. For me, photographing people candidly is difficult. I feel uncomfortable approaching someone and asking if I can take a few shots of them, especially in a public place. I hesitate because of this fear and the moment is gone.
Sometimes however, you’ve just got to take a chance. Dive into a new photographic venture head first. Throw caution to the wind. Be brave. Have courage and stretch your “visionary” legs a little and allow your photographic talents to grow. Anything we fear this much must be teaching us something.
It helps to know that you’re not alone. That even the best talent in this field feel the same sense of exhilaration and hesitation that you do approaching people to photograph. Joe McNally talks about it constantly in his classes and online seminars at Kelby Training. David duChemin devoted an entire section of his wonderful new book Within the Frame – The Journey of Photographic Vision to this subject. Matt Brandon and Gavin Gough post about it weekly on their blogs.
I’ve found one theme in all this that really rings true for me without sounding too preachy. Taking a photograph is an intensely personal act and requires trust between both parties. I believe that if your “intent” is pure and true, the people you approach will read your integrity, trust your character and respond to that almost instinctively. Then and only then can you capture the moment and create a meaningful image. I know it sounds a little corny but its absolutely true.