Do you ever feel self-conscious taking a photo? Most of us do, when we start out in photography. Maybe for a long, long time. That little voice in our says things like…
You probably shouldn’t be photographing here.
What will people think?
They are looking at me!
If we listen to it, that little voice can prevent us from taking photos in many situations. It can prevent us from following our heart, prevent us from capturing the image we were called to take.
Today’s market/wheels photo is no exception. It was taken just off Piazza del Duomo in Florence. This little snack cart also had bicycles for rental. As we walked around the duomo, I spotted it and spent a few minutes studying it with my camera, while the vendor of the stand looked critically on. Did it make me uncomfortable to have him there? Heck yeah. But I had a mission, to get a good market/wheels photo. I was struggling with this scene, but I knew I had a unique image here to capture. So I too a deep breath, ignored him, and moved around for a while, eventually finding this composition that worked. I love the depth of the image, looking down the street past the cart to the chair and the second bicycle.
I must be honest, if I had stopped, it would not have been the first time my resolve had withered under the gaze of a watcher. There have been countless times that I have noticed people watching me photograph, and stopped what I was doing. Why? Was I doing anything wrong? Being on the street, in a public area, absolutely not. There are no people, so neither was I violating anyone’s privacy by taking their photo when they didn’t want me to. And who knows what the vendor was really thinking. Probably, “Yes, a tourist! How much money can I get her to pay for an apple?” (I’ve never felt like I was a walking dollar sign anywhere in Italy more than I did in Florence. That town is tuned to squeeze every dollar it can out of tourists.)
So, how do you get over the gazes? The seemingly critical eye of people around you?
- First, you have to want the shot. Want it more than you care about anything else. If you’re worried about how you look more than how the photograph looks, you will not overcome your discomfort.
- Second, you have to be willing to look a little weird to the average person. Non-photographers will not understand what you are doing when you get down on the dirty ground to get that awesome angle. You will get looks. Accept that as a fact.
- Know your rights, but also be respectful of others wishes. Are you on private property? Is there a sign that says “no photography?” Are you in a store and the owner asks you to stop photographing? On private property, the property owner sets the rules. Respect them. In public places, a little respect also goes a long way, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t photograph.
- It happens rarely, but if someone asks you to stop photographing, politely apologize and move on. A little humility also goes a long way.
- Realize that the quizzical looks you get are really just passing glances. People aren’t paying much attention to you. They are off in their own world. If they stop and watch you for a while, you can acknowledge them with a smile and a shrug of your shoulders, and get back to capturing your images.
I could have let the looks of the vendor scare me off here, but I’ve grown a thicker skin. The image I’m working toward is worth more than avoiding the looks I might get. If you get tripped up by this common feeling of worry about what other people are thinking as you take a photo, I encourage you to take a deep breath and continue. Do it once or twice, to push past the discomfort, and see how it goes. What’s the worst that can happen? You apologize and offer to delete the photo if someone asks you to stop. The best that can happen? You get an awesome image, and you have a little more confidence the next time you are photographing out and about.
Don’t miss the giveaway I have going on right now for some Evidence of Love! Visit here to see the details and enter. Today is the last day for entry – I’ll draw tomorrow morning!