I recently became aware of the Humans of New York project and instantly found myself wanting more than just candid images on the street. I’ve made it a personal goal to try and be more open to having conversations with people I meet on the street. On Tuesdays and Thursdays my daughter attend preschool, and I have a small block of free time that I can spend doing whatever I want. Recently I have begun driving down Colfax in that free time.
I feed the parking meter 7 quarters, strap on the camera and hit the ground running. today was a good day. It was around 50 degrees and mild. I gave myself a four or five block radius and just wandered around for an hour taking pictures. I wish I could say that I took the initiative and approached this person for a photograph, but the reality is he asked me what I was taking pictures of. I told him “everything and anything, human beings or whatever,” his response was wonderful. He implored me to come over and take pictures of himself and his friends. He said he loved seeing himself in random pictures that people take of him.
One of my favorite things about the moment, is he used his Marilyn Monroe T-Shirt to get my attention, he hollered out “Check out Marilyn!”, and I instantly started snapping away all the while babbling about my “icons” project, and what an interesting coincidence it was.
When I am complaining about my photos not being good enough, my girlfriend always reminds me that I am still a student and that I shouldn’t put so much pressure on myself. It doesn’t really make me feel better, because I know what I like and know what I want my photography to be like, and it always seems as if I could do just a little better. At least in my own personal opinion.
What makes me feel good about this day, was that I got to spend an hour of it doing what I love, immersing myself in the city streets, experimenting with the camera. Wandering around and letting the world come to me. There is a lot to be said for slowing down.
The experience of it all was wonderful. I love meeting friendly strangers and hearing their stories. I crave this type of face to face social interaction, and I want to improve at it. I want to be an effective communicator, I want to get people to tell me their stories without having to push to hard. Something in my life happened that made me turn inward to look for comfort, rather than outward. I used to be social and outgoing, and I want to be that guy again.
In my life I have learned that repetition breeds aptitude. The more you do something, the easier it is. I made some mistakes with this interaction today, I didn’t ask their names. I was too shocked that they were so receptive to my camera. I didn’t move them around or try to get some more interesting shots, I just snapped off a bunch of shots randomly, I’d like to work a little harder to get a better result. I just don’t want to be annoying. That is just how I am, but that doesn’t mean I can’t change.
Every interaction with another human being that takes me out of my comfort zone is another step towards the ultimate goal. I love photography, and this is another reason why. It pushed me to become a better person so that I can gain people’s trust and in turn improve my images. To me there is no better feeling than a positive social interaction with a stranger. I always come away feeling rejuvenated and accepted as a member of the human race. Human connection is a powerful thing. I want more of it.