As a London based street photographer who shoots people on a daily basis it may come to you as a surprise if I was to declare that I’m quite introvert and shy.
Well… I am quite introvert and shy and it is a constant battle with myself to get out there and take control.
At least if I don’t know people well. I’m usually the quiet one until I get more comfortable and then I can start expressing myself.
It does have a positive aspect to it though as I use that time to listen and it helps me be a better judge of character.
I tend to be wary of over-confident, attention seeking and loud people who reveal everything about themselves within the first 15 minutes of their one way conversation with me.
I prefer when people grow on me… slowly.
With time I have found that however much I love London, it’s a busy, loud and stressful place and one can be tempted to completely shut down the outside world, either with a mobile, tablet or headphones.
Whilst it brings peace it can also mean that we have fewer interactions with total strangers.
After a few years of sneaky / pure street photography, shooting strangers in the street without asking or them knowing, I have to be honest: I’ve grown tired of it, tired of stealing shots and never interacting with my subject.
I re-read interviews I've taken part in a year or two ago and I realise how far I've gone, how much I've changed both as a person and in my approach.
Change is essential in photography (and life) so I've no regrets.
We are street photographers, yet some of us never ever engage with the people they shoot.
Don't you find it a little bit odd?
I recently did a job shooting street portraits of Londoners for Match.com and it was a real eye opener (read more about it here), something very positive, a decisive moment in my photographic journey.
In short for the first time in my life I stopped people in the street, total strangers, asking if I could shoot their portrait. I did 25 in a single day. It may sound easy for some of you, but trust me... for me it's one of the hardest things I've done in my life.
Now I practice it nearly daily and every day I enjoy it a little more than the previous.
What this has done for me is probably the most significant and positive change in my life due to photography.
Although to this day I am still terrified of approaching strangers and to be possibly portrayed as the freak who wants to take their photo, it is gradually changing my perception of people and increasing my confidence in talking to people I’ve never met before.
One click at a time.
When did we humans become so awkward when it comes to talking to strangers?
People are surprisingly open to the idea and generally friendly, once you get passed the initial weird look.
A simple smile goes a long way...
So my resolution for 2016 is to continue, as I finished 2015, working on getting myself out there and rediscovering people.
Call it some form of therapy to fall in love with people again.