Photographing people I don’t know who aren’t clients is extremely difficult for me. I mean crazy difficult. And yet ironically, capturing these kinds of everyday unrehearsed moments is one of my favorite things to do. When I’m able to push past my fears and approach with camera those I see while out in the world I feel a fluidity with life that is rare and intoxicating. The label of “shy girl” that I’m prone to give myself begins to melt away after the first forbidden frame is shot. Cautiously, I move out from my head and into my heart, with an unexplainable assurance that if I only follow the subtle cues I’m given I’ll be just fine.
The other day I headed out thinking I’d do some street photography. The weather was nice; the skies soft and overcast, and temperature comfortable. I walked several blocks, attempted to raise my camera a couple of times but decided there wasn’t anything interesting to see, and so got in my car and went home. It later bothered me that I didn’t even take one shot, and I wondered why I gave up so quickly. It wasn’t lack of interestingness that sent me home, but lack of vision.
Albert Einstein is quoted as saying, “I think the most important question facing humanity is, ‘Is the universe a friendly place?’ This is the first and most basic question all people must answer for themselves.” Personally, I can see how asking and answering this question can alter one’s perception dramatically. Seeing the universe as unfriendly requires protection…..one must contract and be wary, and as such we’re shielded not only from pain but from beauty and awe. Wonder can’t possibly reach us if we’re hovering sheltered in a corner somewhere.
I think in recent weeks I unconsciously decided the universe is an unfriendly place, and this has really tainted my seeing. Of course I couldn’t find anything worthy to photograph the other day, I didn’t feel safe and lacked trust, and this was reflected back to me in the form of a cold and unresponsive environment. So on this first day of the new year, I’m making a resolution to answer Einstein’s question consciously and thoughtfully.
I choose to see a friendly universe.