Today I’m writing you a personal post on the subject of curiosity and fear.
Fear is something we all experience on a regular basis, isn’t it? Sometimes it holds us back. Other times it drives us forward.
One of my fears relates to one of my loves, photography. I adore photographing people and do it near enough everyday but still one thing that petrifies me is photographing strangers. I’m always seeing such interesting people and there’s a part of me screaming out to get a photograph of them. But there’s another voice inside that seems to think it knows that people will say no, be rude, or laugh in my face at the very least.
Personally I try my hardest not to make assumptions but I feel that society almost trains us to do the opposite. Yet occasionally we have our assumptions well and truly blown out of the water. We should learn from these occasions and take it a message to be more open minded. It is that message, along with an insatiable curiosity for people, that has helped me to start conquering my fear.
Thinking a lot about this recently I realised that it’s really not a big deal if somebody says ‘No’. What’s the worst that can happen? If people say no, they say no and that’s fine. I will go on my merry way but I will not give up. Stopping people to take their picture is taking people watching to the next level and is an amazing way to connect with the people around you.
Asking a stranger if you can take their picture and them agreeing allows you to make a connection you just wouldn’t get otherwise. Another human opens themself up to you and that is a gift in itself.
Virgil Thomson said: “Try a thing you haven’t done three times. Once, to get over the fear of doing it. Twice, to learn how to do it. And a third time to figure out whether you like it or not.”
Well this is only really my first time and I hope it is only the beginning.
I met Joe on my way home from a shoot. While driving through an area I had never been in before I saw an amazing hand painted sign that read: “ONE LIFE. LIVE IT.” I immediately pulled over to take a photograph. I made that sound a little dangerous but it was only a small country road so don’t worry.
Whilst I was taking the picture I realised there was a man in the garden and that he must be the owner. That voice inside me thought, “Oh no! He’s going to be annoyed that I’m taking a photo of his sign. Run for your life.” What I should’ve realised is that anyone with a sign like that outside their house would probably appreciate me wanting to stop to take a photo of it, as it shows I agree with his sentiments. So I started talking to Joe. He invited me into his garden where there were plenty more amazing things he’d made over the years. I could have looked at them all day but in my excitement had left my car out the front with the keys in the ignition! But Joe turned out to be one of the friendliest people I’ve ever met.
Before I left that initial voice in my head was getting drowned out by another voice saying “YOU MUST PHOTOGRAPH THIS MAN.” Somewhere from within, my curiosity and bravery became stronger than my fear. I’m not claiming it to be the most amazing photograph in the world, but I took it, and I pushed myself to do that so it means a lot to me. It will be a reminder to me of how open people can be and how possible it is to to go above and beyond fear. Thank you Joe!
If you see somebody interesting, whose face really tells a story or evokes something for you. Just ask. You have to accept that some people will, and are entitled to say no. Eventually though, someone will say ‘Yes’, and what happens next will make every no worthwhile.