On being a shy photographer

September 12, 2010

You’d think that someone who’d been wielding a camera for fifteen years wouldn’t be shy about it.

You’d think they’d be comfortable with involving people in their pictures, whether through talking to people about objects and spaces in order to photograph them, or, even better, photographing people themselves. You might believe that oft-used line about how a person can hide behind a camera, use it as a mask or a shield to separate him or herself from the subject.

I still find it daunting. I still think people will glare at me and tell me how much they hate having their photograph taken. I still think they might move away or try to hide from the lens. That they might hear my proposal, look at my antiquated equipment and laugh before saying no. Part of me wonders whether I should get the shot anyway; another part of me thinks yes, but how would I feel? Empathy can be a real achilles heel at times

As a result, I miss a lot of shots. The ones I get are invariably stolen, and is thievery really something to be proud of?

Time to start forming portraits defined by negative space – or perhaps just time to start being brave.

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