Prends Donc Courage


I have a courage problem. Or maybe it’s a shyness thing. I’m not sure of the differences. Anyway, those who have followed my photography for more than a week or so might have noticed that I don’t take photos of people. It’s incredibly rare that they appear in anything I do.

Partially, this is because I have no practice photographing people and thus can’t do it well (I assume). I know nothing about portraiture and am not incredibly interesting in perusing it in any formal way. Mostly, however, I think it’s because I have such an incredible apprehension when it comes to asking people I don’t know if I can take their photo.

In fact, I have never asked some that.

Combine this with the actually-vacant landscapes we often travel, and my photographer-to-human interaction possibilities flutter down to nearly zero.

I’ve been told a bunch of times how to approach people to ask them to pose (and how not to). They’ve given lessons and examples and even scripts to follow. It’s not really about knowing what to say, or even how to say it – I worked retail for years and years and years, I most definitely know how to talk to people.

But somewhere there’s a hangup with me. Aside from the question I’d be asking them, I still have a few I have to answer for myself. For starters: Why do I want their photograph? I honestly have no idea. When it comes to old buildings or landscapes, I have an answer – I enjoy looking at it, wish to preserve it, and hope to make the photo feel like what it felt like to be in that place. Yet, transferring those answers to a person, a stranger, is utterly creepy.

“Why would I like to photograph you? Well, I enjoy looking at you, wish to preserve you and I really hope that the photograph captures more what you feel like than what you look like. Here’s my card, I swear I’m stable.”

Yeah, that probably won’t work.

So until I get my own answers, I’ll just stick to more photos about buildings and roads.


‘Prends Donc Courage’

Camera: Zeiss-Ikon Contaflex
Film: Polypan F; 100iso
Process: Rodinal; 1+50; 17min

Seattle, Washington


3 thoughts on “Prends Donc Courage

  1. I hear you. I’d rather break all my fingers than approach a stranger to ask a question.

    There’s so much else to photograph that I don’t feel bad at all about not shooting strangers on the street.

  2. Hearing you, too. I occasionally really enjoy taking pictures of people I know, but of strangers… still has to happen (or not of course 😉 )
    Probably a strange exception is concert photography that I enjoy thoroughly.

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