50 Crazy Things in my 50th Year #46 – Street photography

I needed another backup for some weather related crazy things that I knew might not happen. When I mentioned it to Dani, my co-worker who took my pictures earlier she suggested trying street photography. My stomach clenched. I knew that would make me really uncomfortable and therefore I should do it. Being seen with a camera and taking pictures of people, even with a long(ish) lens, would make me feel very exposed. Therefore, it must be a crazy thing.

I decided to go out on February 23 (today) and spend a couple of hours in the afternoon taking pictures of people. Dani and I both agreed that this would make both of us extremely uncomfortable, but she had good ideas about how to make it more doable. Avoiding faces and just taking pictures of interesting body parts or actions – hands, feet, body position, etc. This made it easier for me and I realized it would be a good thing for me to do.

It reminded me of when I was 23 and lived in Dublin, Ireland. I was almost always alone and I always had a journal with me. Pretty much all I did in those days was walk, hitchhike, and write. I loved going to venues to hear local bands and I would often go early get a table so I could have a good seat, and write. I learned very quickly that nothing freaks people out that idly looking up (actually daydreaming but they didn’t know) and then looking down and writing something. They all think it’s about them. People would actually go out of their way to walk by my table to look down at what I was writing. It got to be pretty funny and I may have made a bit of sport of it. I would intentionally stare at a group of people and then start furiously writing. Half the time I was writing letters to friends or my mom, but my victims didn’t need to know that.

Being seen with a pen, however, is a bit different that being seen with a camera, although the situations may have had in influence. When I was in Dublin I was a foreigner who was intentionally avoiding deep friendships or commitment. At home it’s different.

I parked in the West parking lot of Riverside Park and decided to warm up to the idea by trying some pictures in Riverside Park. I realized I liked looking at feet – running, walking, standing, all interesting. I got some good pictures and my confidence increased a little bit. I still had to take a non-people picture every once in a while just to calm down a bit. After going through the park I crossed the pedestrian train bridge (the same location where my first date (see crazy thing #14) got really interesting, and headed toward Victoria Street. I walked west, back toward the park, and I noticed my confidence increasing with every click of the shutter.

When I got home I looked at the pictures and realized it wasn’t as hard as I thought it was going to be – very interesting!

Why was this crazy?

I was exposed, and drew attention because I had a camera. I don’t really like drawing attention – not sure anybody’s picked up on that yet!

Would I do it again?

Yes, I think it’s good for me to do that. Summer and places like the Farmer’s Market might make things easier!

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