Can I take your photograph?

Today, my friend and I ventured out into the great city of Schenectady NY, on a photographic hunt.. to find people who wouldn’t mind having their photograph taken…

Sounds like a great idea right?  We quickly found out that we may not have thought this through as well as we probably should of….

Lucky for me, my friend is a great deal more courageous then myself and didn’t get quite as discouraged by the first few subjects that starkly declined our request… mind you, the area we decided to scout out can be slightly intimidating so… we obliged kindly and understood their reasoning for perhaps not wanting to be showcased on the internet.  I believe the exact line of decline was…“nahhh..we aint be bloggin”

So we decided that maybe we should take a different approach…  I would drive, and my friend would try to snap photos out of the window….That lasted all of maybe two city blocks.  Apparently, people do NOT like having their picture taken without permission.  All we got were a few hollers, and a couple of middle fingers.  At this point I was ready to call it quits.. but again, my friend just seemed more determined to accomplish our goal. She insisted we carry on.

And then we met this guy….

You would think that by the look of this man that he would be about the last person ever to let someone take his photograph.  He seems unimpressed, unapproachable, angry even….  When in fact, he was actually a charming man, cheerful and kind, happy to have a short conversation with two strangers taking pictures and even pose for our cause. Ok, we got one.. a really good one at that, I mean, look at this guy!  He is saying a thousand words with that expression…

I felt a little bit better, but my heart was still racing as we approached the next victim.  I have to give credit where credit is due though.. my friend took the lead in most of our meetings…By mid day, she had developed a speech of sorts as to why we were taking pictures when asked. It’s not easy to explain to people why on earth anyone would want to take pictures of strangers for no reason other than for the aesthetic appreciation of it.

I am not sure when or how we ever stopped noticing each other all together… We pass by one another without even a glance, consumed by our own lives, disinterested or just unaware of who we are surrounded by, guarded and even fearful of one another.  How did that happen?

We liked him.

How could anyone not take notice of this guy? How cute! ehhem… I mean, how patriotic, how noble. Suddenly we were transported back to 1942. I love photography for that reason, it can take you places, even when your not somewhere other than your own town.

I have taken pictures of everything and anything for a long time.. except for people that is…  I just never have had enough courage to approach someone on the street and ask for a picture, no matter how interesting of a character he or she looks to be… Too afraid to cross that invisible barrier that we put up around our selves.

We ended up not only taking great pictures today, but we stopped to notice people who we never would of interacted with on any other normal day.  We let our guards down and strangers let us in to their space.

Everybody has got something to say, a story of some worth to share, even if with just a picture.

Today was a total break through for me and my love of photography.  To realize that no matter how a person appears, they ARE approachable, and most of the time, they are happy that you did.  We just have to make that first move, accept our differences, and get past our fear of one another.

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5 thoughts on “Can I take your photograph?

  1. ozpeppers

    Reading about you overcoming and letting your guard down is touching and more inspiring than the photos. BEAUTIFUL.

    Keep it up. I had a similar experience and discovered that people are generally fantastic. And they share the same concerns, self-doubt and fears …

    1. 27roots Post author

      thank you so much! it was a powerful day of overcoming some general fears and hesitations to just BE. Your right, people are generally fantastic…and those same vulnerabilities we each have are hugely relatable.


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