Recently I was photographing Buda castle in Budapest as part of a European stock shoot. As I was shooting, I could see in the corner of my eye, a person waiting. I assumed he wanted to get past my shot, but once I had finished, he introduced himself as another Fuji X Series user. We struck up a conversation about our respective cameras, mine an X-T2, his a Pro2. Within minutes a gentleman from Japan had joined us with his X-T1 and we had inadvertently created the Budapest Fuji User’s Group.
The thing that struck me most about this fantastic, but random, connection was how rarely it happens. We photographers, myself included, have a habit of ignoring each other. This got me thinking, why don't we connect more as a community? Here are four reasons we may not strike up a conversation and a few very good reasons we should.
As photographers, we spend a lot of time planning the perfect shot – sometimes right down the the very square meter that we are going to shoot from. We scout locations and get there early, marking our territory with a Manfrotto or a Billingham. These markers state our intent. This is my place, where I will take the greatest shot ever seen in this location.
So imagine both our surprise and despair when another photographer decides to camp right over our left shoulder. Our inner rage seethes, our teeth grind. We more or less explode when we notice said photographer is not even using a tripod.
The thing is though, in most cases the other photographer has every right to be there. The fact that they arrived five minutes after you does not disentitle them to taking a picture. Also, while we've defined meticulously the area from where we are going to shoot, we may be limiting ourselves and our creativity.
Take your shot, but by all means, ask this “interloper” if there are any other locations that you should try – you never know what a simple conversation can inspire.
You are confident in both your abilities and your equipment. You know what to shoot and how to shoot it. After all, you have been at it for over 30 years. So imagine the sheer envy when someone young and seemingly inexperienced strolls up with a Nikon D5 and the holy trinity of lenses.
Your first thought will be, great yet another kid with a new toy. But this person may also be extremely capable with that Nikon – always remember that you can learn something from anyone.
Jealousy is a hard emotion to ignore, but rather than think about their gear, just remember that you are confident in yours and have made stunning images with it – and who knows, maybe you have some wisdom to impart that will help a fellow photographer improve their work.
Photography can be a solitary pursuit. Perhaps its solitary nature helps attracts a percentage of introverted people. I am certainly one of them. When two strangers meet at a predawn photoshoot in a stunning location, it only takes one of them to be introverted to stifle any conversation.
The more extrovert person may well try to strike up a conversation, but the lack of any flowing response from the introvert will soon put them off continuing.
The thing is, you both have the same passion, there is already a conversation point. If you are introverted, then try to continue the conversation. The obvious starting point is “how are you getting on with your Canon/Nikon/camera? You will soon find you have much in common to talk about.
We are creative, artistic people by nature. It’s what attracted us to photography in the first place. This is why we can get so protective of the shots we are taking. Often, there might be other photographers behind us taking similar shots yet we try to conceal out LCDs lest they steal our creativity.
While one or two might lack imagination, the fact is that, like you, most are creative people coming up with their own ideas on how to capture that particular scene. There also might be people that are relatively new to photography, looking for inspiration.
Instead of hiding your shot, show people what you are thinking. The chances are they will reciprocate with something you had not thought of. The creative process does not have to be a solitary pursuit, co-operation can often lead to even better final images.
As photographers, we share a passion for one of the most engaging and artistic hobbies around. It's a real shame that we tend not to connect with each other. When we do, it often leads to interesting debate, greater creativity, a sense of social engagement and perhaps even a new friendship – so get out there and make a connection.
If you are interested in expanding your creativity, take a look at these interesting articles from around the web:
- 5 Ideas to Develop Your Creative Eye in Photography – over at Visual Wilderness, they discuss how creative photography means stepping back, assessing the scene, and finding a way to present your image differently
- 10 Tips How to Unleash Your Creativity in Street Photography from Eric Kim is a great post if you are into street photography.
- 10 Easy Ways to Jump Start Your Creativity by Jeff over at DIY Photography if you are looking for some inspiration or just to shake up your photography
- The Nature of Creativity is a more philosophical look at creativity from the people over at The Luminous Landscape
- 4 Simple Strategies to Awaken Your Photographic Creativity – and don't forget our very own Jason Little has a great article on creativity here at Light Stalking.