Shy Behind the Lens

In a previous confession, I explained my difficulty taking photographs of things that move . This difficulty, of course, includes human beings since they do have a tendency to fidget and wiggle; talk and laugh. They have expectations and demands. They want me to capture their good side and the catch light in their eyes.

Since admitting our photographic foibles is good for the soul, I must divulge the other reason that I prefer inanimate objects as the focus of my shot-making:  I am shy behind the lens.

I am still an amateur at this whole photography thing. I need time to consider aperture and shutter speed and white balance and ISO. Should I use exposure compensation? Should I bracket my shots? Which mode should I use? There are so many things to take into account, so many decisions that have to be made about the technical aspects before I can begin to think creatively.

When there is a person at the other end of my lens, I become increasingly uncomfortable while they wait on me to take the shot. Even when people are not my subject, I don’t like to photograph when other people are watching me; even if it involves family or friends.  I become self-conscious, distracted and awkward. The camera suddenly becomes very heavy.

It’s weird, I know.

Photography for me is a solitary pleasure. I like to walk unseen, slowly searching for the something that will capture my eye and my imagination. I need to be quiet to see. Perhaps for me, photography is a form of meditation, a way to be mindful; a method to slow down and concentrate on what is in front of me. And I am still learning how to be comfortable behind the lens. In a recent Digital Photography School article, James Brandon said the following, which describes my personality and photographic preferences to a T:

“If you are not a people person (and there’s nothing wrong with that), then find something else to photograph!”

And so we come to this photograph of a squirrel. I actually took a photo of a living, breathing, moving subject. I must admit that this squirrel was NOT happy to have me invading his space. He chattered the entire time during his portrait session. Undoubtedly, I was being warned, in no uncertain terms, to slowly back away from his nut stash.

And while this will never rank as one of my top ten images, it does make the list of “going-outside-my-comfort-zone” shots. I stared that squirrel in the eye and fearlessly snapped the shutter.

What fear have you stared down today?

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Posted on March 22, 2011, in Photography and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I love taking pictures of moving objects and people, but I would have been creeped out staring down a squirrel! Congrats on stepping out of your comfort zone.

    I need to take a page out of your book and get more comfortable with the abstract/still life world of images.

    • I was just amazed at capturing a “moving” subject. And it was slightly creepy since he was pretty pissed off that I dared invade his space. Just glad that he didn’t bean me with an acorn.

      I think we all have photographic subjects that speak to us and I strongly believe we need to honor what our eye and heart is drawn to. But I do think it is good to step outside the comfort zone we have drawn for ourselves to see what else might speak to us.

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