Deep down, I am actually a rather shy person. An introvert.
Growing up, when I was in a group of people, I would never say a word. I never had a big group of friends. I was always the listener.
Photography changed me.
Early subjects of my photography were landscapes, buildings, wildlife. Never people. In my first year in business I was most comfortable when photographing factories, machinery, buildings. Soon enough, though, I received requests for photographing people and I realised that this “silent-me” isn’t going to get very far in the world of corporate photography unless I changed something.
So I developed this “other-me”; I dug deep to find my “bossy German-me”, big camera in hand, telling people what to do, cracking bad jokes (it is not true that all Germans are bad at telling jokes – it’s just me) and making a fool of myself to get people’s attention. It was really hard in the beginning and before every shoot I would fight nerves with a pep-talk in front of my bathroom mirror.
It worked. I realised that people relax more and look more natural in the photographs when being spoken to constantly during a shoot and this made the exercise less awkward for me. Eventually I didn’t have to try anymore. It started to happen automatically. The moment I picked up my camera I slipped into this “other-me”.
This newly-found, loud approach towards people also helped me in my private life and I have assimilated this “other-me” to become part OF me for good. No, I am not schizophrenic and I have not turned into an extrovert either, but I really enjoy people and crowds now. I have always liked people – but rather from a distance. This has definitely changed. No more pep-talks…
I am still kind of hesitant when shooting people in the street. I feel like an intruder. Let’s be honest: Having a big lens pointed at you can be very intimidating.
My trusty x100s is making street life easier for me these days. Pointing this little body at someone isn’t anywhere nearly as intimidating as my work camera plus zoom lens. People’s reactions are so much more positive when pointing an x100s at them. They seem happy to be in your frame.
And that’s when I finally come to talk about my entry this week. The choir in the photograph was warming up outside a concert venue where a competition was being held. It was a really nice scene and they sang beautifully which made me want to capture the moment. I noticed how easy it was for me to walk up to the group, make eye contact to get their approval to take a photo without disturbing their singing and grabbing the shot. And they even smiled at me.
It is no award-winning photograph but it carries so much meaning and that makes it very special to me. It is one of those “pinch-me” moments where I realise how far I have come and how proud I must be of my achievements.
We must always celebrate our achievements. Big or small. We may not do to badly with the big stuff but so easily we rush past a moment as if it’s nothing because we haven’t hit the big jackpot. But it is really important that we take time to take in the small stuff too! Not to boast, but to acknowledge our efforts and hard work so that we can find the energy to keep going.
It’s what makes it all worthwhile, isn’t it?