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Shooting Outside My Comfort Zone

August 7, 2011

I’m not incredibly outgoing around strangers, and I tend to be much more of a listener than a talker. I feel safe asking questions, offering advice, and nodding my head in agreement. When I’m forced to be the one to speak about my life I get antsy and uncomfortable, as if, “Who really cares about what’s going on with me?”

Photography has been challenging me lately to speak up, tell more of my story, and share my life with others…

You see, the other day  I ventured downtown with my new lens in tow, with the intention of just taking some pretty shots of nature, maybe some buildings or other interesting architecture around me. Ones that didn’t challenge me. Safe shots.

But then I spotted this girl. And I waited and watched, pondering how I could get close enough with my fixed zoom lens without being “creepy”. Then she turned her face and I got this shot, and it felt good to stand my ground without shying away. I took a few more. It got easier. And then I was so concentrated on capturing her energy that I forgot I was clicking away at a complete stranger in the middle of the busiest street in the city.

I felt energized and excited about photography in that moment. Not because I got a perfect shot with the ‘right’ composition. Because I didn’t. And that’s okay. But because I was pushing myself out of my comfort zone.

Later in the week I went to our farmer’s market early in the day before any of my friends had woken. I knew I could get some pretty shots of produce… maybe some baguettes. The usual farmer’s market fare. Safe subjects that I could capture from a distance.

Then I remembered how good it felt to take a risk. So I started asking people if I could take some shots of their products and samples and hear their stories’.

And when they asked me mine, I was proud to say I write a blog. And that I love photography. And good food. That I’m a student and this is just a hobby. It felt good to tell a piece of my story too.

I spotted these girls sharing food and making art, and I loved the moment that they were having. So I took a shot from behind. And that was safe.

So I walked around front and asked if I could take a picture of their food because it told a story. I love the paint splattered hands and the incredible array of breakfast foods. And I told them that. It felt good to speak up.

None of my pictures are the perfect exposure, breathtaking depth of field or composition. But they all challenged me. Not only to capture new kinds of subjects and moments, but to speak up.

Tell a bit of my story. Meet new people. And listen to bits of their’s.


Have you taken on any personal challenges lately? Pushed yourself to grow? Learned something new about yourself through a hobby or experience? Please share!


16 Comments leave one →
  1. Eliza permalink
    August 7, 2011 11:03 am

    so glad you’re doing this! sounds like a great step from conversations we had lately! I especially love that shot of the girl, seeing her face makes it such a better picture I that you’ve started, looks like the possibilities are endless!

  2. spoonfulofsugarfree permalink
    August 7, 2011 2:08 pm

    These pics are fabulous! So glad you pushed yourself outside your comfort zone-inspiring!

  3. August 7, 2011 4:39 pm

    I love this story and that you braved your fears about shooting people. I had to go thru this in Mexico City, big time!!

    I bet if you would have asked her, hey I am a photographer, mind if i take your pic, she would have LOVED it. I can just sense that about her.

    Yes it may have changed the mood and vibe but i am betting with her outfit and creative energy, she WANTS people to see her funky ways and would have been totally cooperative and loved every min of camera time 🙂

    What you did and braved your fears is AWESOME!!!

  4. August 7, 2011 4:39 pm

    I can tell just in how you talk about it how much you enjoy photography. It is refreshing to see :] Your shots are wonderful. And what you say about none of them being “perfect” this or perfect that? Well, I think that’s what makes them even more special….because to me, they ARE perfect! You have a great eye for it, and that is more important than anything else.
    And I totally hear you on being safe, too. It’s hard to go up to a stranger and ask for a photo!

    • Katie permalink*
      August 8, 2011 9:48 am

      Thank you so much! I know, when I look at pictures taken of strangers I never thought of what goes on ‘behind the lens’ to get that shot, and its not always easy!

  5. August 7, 2011 5:56 pm

    Wow! This is such a great post. Stepping outside of your comfort zone is not an easy task, even if it is just taking pictures and talking to strangers. This is seriously inspiring, not to mention some really great pictures! 🙂

  6. August 8, 2011 10:28 am

    YAY for you! I was just discussing this with my husband! I have a hard time getting “out there” and taking the shots I want to take! These pictures are GORGEOUS!!!!! This weekend I just made him take the camera, as he has NO qualms taking pictures of anyone or anything. However, I look back on the pictures and I wish I would have captured the things that caught MY attention.

    AWESOME post!!

  7. August 8, 2011 1:59 pm

    Awesome job with this! Stepping outside your comfort zone is scary, but it’s amazing what you can discover when you do!

  8. August 8, 2011 6:30 pm

    ummm katie, has your blog been hiding from me?!?!? how have i not seen your beautiful blog?!? you seem like an absolutely vibrant girl with a lot of the same interests as me (i do photography at school; i also happen to go to school in massachusetts!) i love that you asked the vendors about their stories; i bet there were some amazing ones! also, i want to make your banana bread!!! =) definitely following your blog – it’s a keeper 😉

    • Katie permalink*
      August 8, 2011 7:18 pm

      Natlie- Thank you so much! I’m glad you stopped by, and that I found your blog as well. I love all of your gorgeous photos!

  9. August 8, 2011 7:01 pm

    I just stumbled across your blog and really enjoy it! I am also very ‘into’ photography, but sometimes have difficulties stepping out of my comfort zone when it comes to shooting photos of strangers. In fact, I was at a flee market last week and was just thinking about this same thing! When I studied in Florence and traveled around Europe I didn’t have as many qualms…probably because I didn’t understand most of the different languages half the time! But you’re absolutely right, and you took some amazing photos. Sidenote: where is that BEAUTIFUL sunflower patch you are at in your About Me section? I love sunflowers and that place looks amazing!

    • Katie permalink*
      August 8, 2011 7:16 pm

      I’ve thought about being abroad and taking photos of strangers and how it seems like it’d be much easier. I’m not sure why, maybe its a cultural thing here to feel uncomfortable if someone is taking your picture that you don’t know. But no one at the market seemed to mind in the slightest! The sunflower patch is in my hometown in Massachusetts. Every August the most gorgeous patch grows and they sell them at a farm stand. Thanks for your sweet compliment about my blog!

      • Sasha Snowchild permalink
        August 10, 2011 9:33 pm

        Those sunflowers are in full blossom again on Scotland right now, Katie! SO beautiful.

  10. August 9, 2011 3:12 am

    I just stumbled across your blog and it’s gorgeous! Definitely going to carry on reading 🙂
    I love that you faced your fears and the photos you took are beautiful, especially because there’s a story behind them! I like taking photos (mine are nowhere near as good as yours though!) and I have the same problem, I don’t like people noticing me take them, this inspired me to be a bit bolder, thank you 🙂

  11. August 10, 2011 1:13 pm

    Wow. That is so brave! I am so shy about taking pictures in busy places. You’ve inspired me.

  12. Sean permalink
    August 10, 2011 9:32 pm

    Awesome post, Katie! I’m glad you are feeling more comfortable expressing yourself and your interests.

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