Its that time of year again. I’ve lost my self confidence. I’ve lost the ability to see where I’m going with photography. I feel like I’m not doing what I should be. I look at what I want to be doing and something prevents me doing that. I don’t know what it is really, at least I can’t pin it down. Maybe it is simply a lack of self confidence. I tell myself I can’t do it so I don’t. Maybe…
I have two rather good projects to explore on my doorstep. One is a very personal project and the other is simply a documentary. I can go out and take ok photos. I’m sure people will tell me they’re good but they’re not. They’re safe shots. I want to be on a level above what I am now getting the real shots. I don’t mean photographing people dying in a war zone. I just want to feel like I’ve got the shots I want and not to feel like this. They put a new wheel up in Liverpool so I waited for dusk and photographed it without issue. I grabbed my gear, walked down the road and took photos. Nothing stopped me doing that. I want to be able to do the same for documentary work. I want to pick up my camera and take photos without issue, without my head holding me back.
Its all so absurdly stupid really. I’ve been doing street photography off and on for 4 years now. I find it just as hard now as when I first started. Aren’t you supposed to face fears, build confidence and grow from that? It hasn’t happened with me. I guess I understand things more now. I know that I’m not just photographing people walking around. I’m looking for moments. But when they happen I can’t lift my camera and they’re gone. Its so hard for me to go up to someone and ask to take their photo even after 4 years of practicing. Why?!
I took this photo over 4 years ago. I walked past her initially but returned to ask for her photo as I felt it was worth it. Its a good shot. 4 years on and I’m still that same shy person. It makes no sense.
I took this photo a few months ago in Southport. I wasn’t talking to her so I could sit there and take the photo. I was surrounded by friends and in a relaxed state of mind so I guess that helped. She was also willing to be photographed and at no point said otherwise so I didn’t even have to ask. I love this shot and I’d like to do more of this sort of thing. Its 4 years since the other shot and these portraits are few and far between. Surely 4 years of progress would have given me the ability to do this all the time? I should be able to go out and just shoot. Every single person I see is a potential photo, potential story.
I’m reminded of a quote by Richard Avedon. “I hate cameras. They interfere, they’re always in the way. I wish: if I could just work with my eyes alone.” I feel like the camera is holding me back. I have to lift it up to take a photo. Its like putting on a rainbow dress and jumping around waving rainbow flags while blowing a whistle. It feels like I stop engaging with the moment and try to photograph it. The moment is of course aware of this and changes into a zebra preventing me photographing what I just saw. I’m tempted to shoot docu work with just the 50mm. Partly to remove gear from the equation but also to make my camera smaller. I am tempted to even shoot with my AE-1 & 50mm as thats even smaller. I just feel like the camera is hindering things. I want the photograph but to get that I have to take the photo. Thats where things get tricky. I have to disengage from the moment and photograph it before its over…
You know I have no idea what I’m actually trying to do here. Writing this has just made me think. I know how to take the photo. See the moment, shoot. I know that damn it! See this is why I’m so frustrated and angry with myself.
I took this photo at the 20th Anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster. I saw what was happening, lifted my camera and took the photo. My head was clear. I knew I had to take that photo because it was important. This single moment said everything about the event. All I would have to say is that its 2 people at Anfield 20 years after Hillsborough and everyone would understand. So I can take the shots I want, the important ones. I can bend my camera to my will. So why am I so stuck? Do I need to be doing this every single day so the stuff in my head is beaten down?
In my heart I know that this is what I do best. Cityscapes, buildings, sunsets, etc are all nice but they’re safe. Outside of buying a new lens, trying a new processing style or finding a new building I’m not being pushed. Its all safe. Wait for nice light. Take photo. Easy. I want more than that. I want to see moments and photograph them. They’re right on my doorstep but I can’t.
Every year I get this and I’ve got no answers or resolution outside of keep going. I had this in 2007 and in 2008 and in 2009 on this blog. I guess all I really want is the confidence to take any photo I want and not feel this way every few months.
I’ll try and make my next post a happy one :)