Portraits. I’ve not done much of them, and with few exceptions, been too intimidated to put myself out there to get any decent ones.
The reason I often cite as the source of my reluctance to go out there and make portraits of strangers, is my muted horror at the invasiveness of sticking a camera in someone’s face purely for my own selfish motives. It seems unfair, somehow, not to give something back.
But that’s not really it. What is, is having to lay some of myself bare to create that connection to make a succesful portrait. Because photography is about life, and life is about relationships, and real relationships involve some degree of intimacy, which involves some giving and taking. Which addresses the point above about the fairness of giving something back to a random stranger, when you ask to make a portrait. You give something of yourself in return.
And that is what scares me: What if nothing I have to give is of any worth? And how prepared am I to find out for sure?
I still can’t answer either of those questions, but neither can I leave that sleeping dog alone, so in September, the pie festival became one of a few “get over yourself and go do something” targets to come.
I found my groove talking to some brilliant folk over at the Pie Town Volunteer Fire Department stand that day. Got to hear some fine stories, although didn’t end up with any great portraits; what you see here is about as good as it got, but I did take a step in the long road towards getting over my irrational fears…. and becoming a real photographer perhaps, instead of a daydreaming office monkey?
Glynn: rancher, world traveller, Pie Town VFD fire fighter, and purveyor of fine New Mexican knowledge. He was extremely kind to this sleepy noob from Western Australia, and spent a very long time talking to me while we walked around the festival area.
Justin Carroll, Fire Chief, Pie Town VFD
Merry Cowboy/Country Singer, Good Pie Cafe
Larry Hardin (thank you Justin!), wood sculptor, outside his studio
An aside: I’d always imagined balking and bolting if I was ever asked to be on that side of a stranger’s camera, having never consciously been before. However, during my month in the USA, I was the subject of many an unfamiliar lens while ambling around various locations, and found I wasn’t too bothered by the momentary, often wordless connection. A world of relation.
On the camera: All images from my month long jaunt to the US were shot with only with the Fuji X-Pro 1 and 35mm f1.4 kit I got back in June. I’d not used it much until September, which meant I got to know the camera while getting to know a new place and new people. The perfect trifecta to frame a life changing trip (more on this later).
As a DSLR shooter, there was a lot about the X-pro 1 that I had to get used to: the smaller body, which means my thumbs are forever hitting buttons they shouldn’t be, the relative lack of performance (greatly improved after firmware update), the rangefinder style (optical) viewfinder and all the little other differences of a non-Nikon system. But it had everything going for it from my point of view – portability, weight (or lack thereof), size, image quality etc. This was a camera that came everywhere with me, easily, and despite the initial difficulties I had with the AF lag, managed to work around quite happily after settling in with it.