Thursday, November 02, 2006

Fear of success

I know it is just photography. It isn't life or death. Being creative isn't going to radically change my life or, if I take a bad picture, it isn't the end of the world. So why is there so much fear involved in taking pictures or trying to do something new ? I've been trying to make some progress on this portrait project. But I find it really difficult to ask someone, face to face, if I could take their picture. I've been avoiding this for years in one way or another, since I picked up a camera. Amanda has always been a willing and beautiful subject, but other than that I have a real shyness about approaching someone and taking their picture most of the time. However, this seems really context-specific, this fear of mine. I was at a couple of weddings this year. For some reason at weddings, when shooting candidly, I've been really comfortable getting in close, shooting away - getting shots I've been really happy with. So this year I've seemed to make some progress in that respect. But I can't deal with trying to pose someone. Though perhaps I'm just rebelling at the formality of posing a subject - like a mannequin, rather than trying to capture the life and essence of what's happening anyway. More than that I still can't approach strangers. They might say no! But is that really what I'm afraid of ? So to get past that, that's why I started this project with my friends - after all, I shouldn't be afraid of them, now should I ? Yet I'm struggling just to ask people. It isn't really the fear of the rejection. Maybe it is just not wanting people to think the idea is silly ? Or maybe really, deep down, its fear they might actually say yes ? Then I'd really be in trouble. Suddenly I'd have to take an actual good picture. Expectations would be raised, opportunity to fail opening in front of me. Perhaps strangers would be easier after all. However, I'm pushing on through. I think that most of the best creative opportunities are when I follow the fears. It might not be fun, but it'll be a much more interesting ride than just doing the safe same old, same old. Most photographers seem to have this fear of approaching other people to take their pictures. At least, many of the photographers I've talked have all had this same issue with working with others. There's a sense of having to connect, a risk of failure that's much higher than if you take a bad picture of a flower or some other inanimate object. They don't answer back, or object to how you made them look. They don't even expect to see the pictures after you took them. But that starts to sound a whole lot less rewarding as well. No opportunity to connect, or share, or make someone's day by doing it well. Just got to keep plugging away at it I suppose. So I asked my friend Randy if I could take his picture. We are going to shoot it this weekend. One step at a time! It is just photography, not life or death after all.