I was out last Saturday and photographed in a parking lot. I was down on my knees with my toys in the pool of water in front of me when a car drove in and parked. I saw it happening in the corner of the eye and realized that it was probably best to leave.
Yes, I confess… I’m not like Shelly that I say it out loud…
I work by myself
I prefer to photograph for myself, not hiding, but with my own company. I had already picked up my things, when I realize that it was too late. The man in the car has decided that it was time to ask me what I do. But when he reached me, I realized that he already knew or had guessed. Because he wanted to see the images.
With a deep exhale I showed him the back of my camera and one of the images I had just done. But doing this it made me think: why am I like this? Why do I think it’s so hard to talk about my pictures?
Why is it so hard to talk about my work?
I think I know. It’s the same feeling that makes me be moderate with my presence in social media. My photographic work is a lot about me. Talking about my work is, in a way, talking about me, myself, my experiences and my own life. I prefer not to talk about that. And if I do, I want to talk about my photos in rooms that I feel safe in. A stranger who wants to know what I’m doing when I’m kneeling near a water puddle; or an avatar on social media that pushes the like-button; these situations don’t make me feel safe or understood. I prefer to work for myself and save my work for places that aren’t about being the most popular, or the best.
In short: I take myself too seriously. I wish I didn’t and that I saw all the possibilities to share, to talk, or to make sense of my work, but I don’t. Now you know.
Thanks for sharing, Kristina! I’m the exact same way when I’m shooting out in the world. I don’t like when people walk up and ask me what I’m doing, or when they watch me. It really makes me uncomfortable, and I find myself going way out of the way sometimes to try and avoid any potential of running into people. I’m an anxious person by nature, and don’t talk much about myself either.
Once I was filming near a ditch that had filled with water in a neighborhood down the street from my apartment. Someone came out of one of the houses, asked what I was doing, asked to see my pictures, and then sat down a few feet away from me to watch me photograph. It was unbearable!
Boy can I relate to your experience. I hate it when people are around too. And I just hate being watched. It’s like they are invading my private space.
I hear you. I don’t mind doing it near other photographers… but for non-photographers, even close ones like family and friends, its unbearable. I tend to lose all sense of creativity when I am around other people.
Doing my art with others is bad enough – having to explain it to folks who don’t understand is downright unbearable. Thats just a pain that lingers. I hate it a lot. I can do it (my recent shots in Red Rock Canyon for example) if the people I am with also understand the process – in fact the last Sandperson photo I took was done showing a photographer friend how its done. If that friend was almost anyone else – I’d have left my camera in my bag.
I don’t think its me taking myself or my art to seriously tho… its more that the act of creating is such a deeply internally personal thing that having to share it with others just feels wrong and invasive.
You are SO not alone in this! Like Dave, if I’m shooting with another person, that’s fine. But any other time in public, I either become super-stealthy, wait for everyone to leave, or… go find somewhere else. For me, it’s only when shooting toys that I get so self conscious, probably because it seems to require – or instigate – far more explanation. “Why are you photographing the moon?” is not a question I’ve ever heard.
For those of you that are uncomfortable photographing toys in public, I’m curious about your experience shooting other things in public. I don’t mean shooting a friend in front of the Golden Gate Bridge, but assignments of some sort – be it professional or maybe for school. So for me I did a small bit of photojournalism for a local newspaper many years ago, followed by portraits and weddings for 7 or 8 years. Both were situations where I often shot in public, often in very crowded conditions with lots of people gawking. I’ve shot engagement sessions at sidewalk cafes among the hustle and bustle of weekend shoppers and passerby. I guess what I’m saying is that shooting in public is like a lot of other stuff – the more you do it the easier it gets. Self-consciousness fades away. Toys obviously throw a little different angle to it, as people are even more curious about that than shooting people, but for me it’s not that different. People see me on the ground or wherever shooting a stormtrooper or Mr. Incredible. If they engage with me I’m happy to chat with them and let the know what I’m doing. Everyone played with toys at some point, and chances are they’ve seen Star Wars or Pixar movies. I don’t usually show them what I just shot, but I might pull up my website or Instagram page to show them the end result. And I might even hand them a business card if they are truly interested. For me it’s making connections, and honestly I love seeing people’s reactions in person when they see my work. Facial expressions, eyes widening, the excitement in one’s voice…so much better than a bunch of oohs and ahs and exclamation points in an Instagram post.
First: great post! I feel the same when doing toyphoto. Feels like people can’t really accept an adult taking toyphoto. Or perhaps it is me that is uncomfortable shooting in public. Feels like they look at me and think ”what a nutcase”.
Never happens or feels that way shooting something else.
I am the same when doing toy photography. It’s such a personal experience for me and I like to do it in solitude. Most of the general public don’t get it and I hate trying to explain myself. I don’t have a problem shooting landscapes and wildlife in public because that is such a normally accepted occupation that most people leave you to it. I do love sharing my Lego photos but only within the toy community ‘cos they get me and don’t make this 65 yr old Grannie feel uncomfortable about doing what makes me happy.
oh, great post!
I had similar toughts in my post about shooting outdoors;
I had many doubts about public shooting and being forced to talk about what I’m doing. But, like I wrote, world disappears for me when I’m shooting and maybe that’s why nobody bothers me with questions. Sometimes I hear reactions, but they are like from far far away. I’m focused on my photo. An I just don’t care anymore 🙂
Under my post Jennifer Nicole Wells wrote words of wisdom: “whatever we choose to do, confidence is key. I think the positive with perusing your passion always out weighs the negative.”
And I totally agree with her.
I usually go out to a secluded spot – mainly because most my shots are done outdoors and it’s very accessible (2-3 minute drive to the desert or mountains).
That being said I have also taken photos in public and one of my favorite spots is in the bushes and red rock of the Tuacahn Amphlitheater. I am there nearly every Saturday as a vendor and when it’s slow I pose my toys and shoot them. I also sell my toy photography prints there – so I am used to being outside my comfort zone when shooting. I enjoy it and I suppose other may think it’s weird – but that’s okay. I don’t do it for them. Now I am not really bothered by people’s reaction to my shooting, but I do not generally go out of my way to shoot in crowded areas either.