Okay, maybe that was a bit too audacious a title. Because this isn’t really a guide, as much as it’s an honest assessment of my social awkwardness in the process of embracing street photography. And notice I said “dealing” with fear. I find you never really get over fear, at least I don’t, but you learn how to deal with it, and put it in its proper place.
I’m not really a people person, and I’m most definitely an introvert. I’m not a person drawn to social situations. In fact, I actively avoid them. But I’ve always been an observer. I’m endlessly fascinated by people, what they do, what they think, how they interact, and I think this is why I’m so drawn to city life in general. Even though I’m an introvert, the fact that people fascinate me is why it makes perfect sense that I got into photography, because it’s yet another way to observe the human condition.
But there’s just one problem, until recently, I mostly avoided photographing people. So how can an introvert start photographing the human condition? (light bulb moment) Ah ha! Street photography! It’s kind of interesting actually, and it is something I find amusing, that it seems even some of the most outgoing people are intimidated by the idea of photographing strangers on the street, yet here I am, Mr. Anti-Social out on the streets, doing just that. And I’m not going to tell you that I’m somehow immune from intimidation, but for someone like me, who is very much social phobic, but who nonetheless wants to photograph people, the street suddenly doesn’t seem so intimidating, especially if I’m ever to fulfill the need to observe and capture the human condition.
But don’t get me wrong, it took me years to get to this point. And even now, I need to talk myself into it. I need to psych myself up. I don’t know if I’ll ever be fully comfortable with it, but maybe being somewhat trepidatious is actually a good thing, as long as it doesn’t completely shut me down and stop me from doing what I love doing (once I’m doing it).
So if you want to get out there on the streets and get those candid shots, I don’t have a formula for you to follow. I don’t have a 7-step plan for how to psych yourself up. I don’t have a magic set of words that will put you in the right mindset. You really do just have to stop thinking, then stand up, then grab your camera, and head to the nearest town center or city and start taking photos. There’s no other way to get there other than to just start doing it. It will be intimidating, it will be awkward, and in fact, you might just face a confrontation or two, but you will also experience a natural high, and a fulfilling satisfaction of doing what you want to do, even when you weren’t sure you could.