I tend to do stories about people
or subjects that I either don’t understand or am fascinated by –
usually because the subject is so different from who I am and what is
in my personal world. That means that I almost always am out of my element. Openness is the key to making these situations work.
I did a story, my idea, about cool local church band and my wife didn’t get it
saying that it made no sense that I’d do that story when I’m not at all
religious. However to me it made total sense: the band matters to the people
in the band, the church and the community thus it is a story worth
telling. Yes there were some awkward moments but I told everyone in the
church to begin with that I wanted to do the story because I thought it
had merit and not because I’m a believer. They were totally cool with
it and if anything were more accepting because they had inspired one
who is not among the flock.
When I’m making photos I don’t worry about how I feel as much as how
the subject feels. If I’m accepted by them then I will not have any
real feelings of emotional distance as a photographer. Getting them to
accept me often takes time and much like approaching an animal: moving
slowly, showing that you are friendly and mean no harm. I aways remember that as a photographer I have to build and maintain a relationship with my
subject even if the shoot only lasts 30 minutes. My wife calls me a "Stand up Chameleon" because I have to essentially be able to walk into a situation and become accepted in 90 seconds. But I still sometimes have to take a
deep breath and psych my self before walking into the room to make
It is a practice thing: the more you jump into the pool the less the
shock from the cold water. But if you see everyone swimming then you know that it can’t be that bad, in fact, the water could be rather nice.