There’s a long list of things I’m not good at – gardening, polite chit-chat at parties, picking the shortest line at the supermarket, coordinating shirts and socks (Garanimals for men, please!), to name just a few. Let’s add paparazzi to that list. Ok, not paparazzi exactly. If someone uber-famous wandered by… like maybe Michael Bolton or Flo from that Progressive Insurance commercial, I’m pretty sure I’d be able to take a picture. But taking a picture of a complete stranger frightens the bejesus out of me.
You may be asking yourself, wait I don’t think this guy is a private eye so why is he stalking strangers and taking their picture? Yes there is a bit of a creep factor here, and as long as no one mentions it to my parole officer we’re all good. The real reason is that I’ve long admired the raw, unexpected, sometimes gritty images, that the truly talented street photographers capture. There’s something about real people going about their lives that’s just captivating.
I wanted to challenge myself to learn something new, something I was uncomfortable with. Poodle grooming is out so street photography seemed like a logical next choice. The problem is that I didn’t anticipate how hard it is to take a picture of a complete stranger – being relatively close and obvious. It just feels… invasive and a bit weird. Of course I could resort to one of those gazillion dollar lenses you see at sporting events and stand two blocks away, but that defeats the purpose. You can’t really capture emotion or the feel of something that way.
I’m not sure yet how I’m going to get over this irrational fear. And it is irrational. It’s not like someone is going to yell at me or chase after me. Even if they do, I can be pretty fast when I need to. I’m sure all that zombie apocalypse fitness training will pay off when that irate old lady gets all up in my face and wants to throw down.
So why can’t I bring myself to point the camera at a stranger and press the shutter? I don’t know. Maybe I need to print out a fake press pass? Dress like a tourist? Enroll in an expensive on-line course? One way or another, I resolve to overcome this fear. Sigh… maybe I’ll just go practice with more pictures of cows. They’re not too scary.