Wednesday, February 9, 2011

First Street Photography Experience

It's amazing the power inspiration can have.

I've been sitting idle on my photography goals for a while now. I've been taking pictures, but I haven't been taking the risks I need to become a better photographer. It's easy to stay home and take photos of my own kids, or take pictures of inanimate objects. There isn't any fear involved for me in capturing those images. But more often than not, its boring.

Recognizing my need to be inspired and get a firm kick in the pants to get off my duff, I picked up some books from the library. I wasn't very intentional about the books I got. I just picked up what was available on the shelves at my tiny neighborhood library. Coincidentally, the three books I chose are all about women photographers. I'm really enjoying reading about the rebellious Berenice Abbott. While her photographs themselves aren't particularly inspiring to me, her spirit and her way of doing things her own way is fantastic. She didn't follow trends. She went against the grain. She took risks.

It's helpful to see that I'm not alone in being afraid to have people see me in action. Says Abbott, "I was shy about setting up my camera in NewYork. The first time I tried it I packed up and went home. But I knew I had to do it and I made myself come back." People made fun of her, with her short hair and slacks in the 1920s, but she learned to ignore them.

This is the spirit and energy with which I approached my photography yesterday. I just got out there and did it.

I warmed myself up by taking some self portraits in a conspicuous place with people walking behind me.
self portrait

Then I dove in, learning quickly which angles and techniques would work best to stay unnoticed, helping me to capture people uninhibited.

listening fingers

waiting on display

It felt amazing to be out doing what I've wanted to do for so long. My photos aren't anything groundbreaking, but that wasn't the objective yesterday. It was to take risks and get comfortable. And since I was feeling good, I went ahead to the next step.

A man was in his backyard and there were puppies everywhere. I stopped to take a few photos and then I called to the man and asked if I could take a picture of him with his dogs. He said yes, came over, opened the gate and let me in. Just like that! It was so easy and he was so friendly, I found myself at ease.

play time

Charles and his puppies

He isn't a breeder. Just a man with two dogs that had puppies. He's lived here for 20 years and seen the neighborhood change dramatically during that time. He buys his dog food in bulk at WinCo and mixes it with hamburger and those puppies come running. He's going to keep one puppy and give the rest away, or sell them, or however it plays out. His name is Charles.

This was a good day.

Update: Tomorrow I'll post the still shots from this session.


Anonymous said...

Really GOOD JOB, b. I have felt the same way you did about being self-conscious with the camera. It's like you have to adopt a persona/role (at least for me) and then be that self. Also, I found it easier if I imagined myself having an actual JOB doing it, which somehow gave me permission and justified what otherwise felt like an invasion of someone's privacy! Acting, it's all about acting....momo

Cheryle said...

What a wonderful way of learning about something you love! I'm so, SO glad you're doing this! xoxo

Megan said...

I admire your risk-taking experience :) I am hoping to do more of this kind of thing myself someday but still working up to it.

I like the shot of the guy in the green track suit waiting for the bus.

kitchu said...

you are so much braver than me. i am painfully shy with my camera. so much so that i am often too shy just to take any photo IN FRONT of a person, much less of a person (ie stranger)! i made a vow for 2011 to break out of this and like you have been trying to come up with techniques that are less obvious to the person being photographed! these are awesome!

Vintage Andee said...

I heart NoPo street photography, lovely.