I talk to people every day. I meet new people every day. I meet new people and I talk to them every day. I also take pictures. I probably take them every day. So meeting new people and taking their picture should be easy to do on any day…..or it could be utterly terrfying. Yes, it was utterly terrifying.
A couple months ago I got a film camera, enrolled in a photo class and jumped into the art of photography. While there truly is extensive technicalities to shooting and developing film that I a far from mastering (and for which my own stupidity and clumsiness really set me back) I have found the real challenge to photography is not mastering art of the camera, but the art of people.
Photographing people, or more precisely people you do not know, is a surprisingly difficult scenario to navigate. The photography that I am particularly interested in closely tangos with the art of journalism because its priority is the documentation of life. I am most enthralled by and strive to create photography which captures reality. But, capturing someone else’s reality does not come easy because it requires a level of intimacy many people don’t even establish with those they interact with on a day-to-day basis. Furthermore, the realities I often find most necessary or interesting to capture are those most difficult to approach.
I have always loved the oddity and uniqueness that lies in the spectrum of humanity, but how do I photograph that without making them feel like a spectical. How do I make them feel comfortable, and not that I am taking their picture because I think they look cool?
I am also a proponent of the untold story, the marginalized individual and the forgotten soul. There are so many stories I want to tell and plights I would like to document with my lens, but how do I enter those worlds? Whether it is politically correct or not I find myself constantly terrified of looking like the often resented “white middle class suburban girl” who probably just wants to take cool pictures for her fancy photo class.
Unfortunately, I have not figured out the answers to these questions yet, but I get the feeling I am just going to have to dive in and experience it for myself. Which is part of the reason I am choosing to follow in the footsteps of Mary Ellen Mark for my final photography project. As one of this centuries best photojournalists imitating her work will force me to shed my anxieties, strip my insecurities and, relying on my kindergarden capabilities, meet someone new.