The Real Challenge

Some of you may be wondering how my 365 project is coming along.

I am, too.

Beginning on April 1st, I had planned to start taking photographs of complete strangers and posting one face per day on my Flickr album. I was only going to take photos of those strangers with their consent: that is, I would approach the person, get him or her to pose for me, and snap the shot.

I can do candid photography. This challenge was to have the person look straight into my lens. Perhaps, smile.

I knew what I was going to say to the stranger as I approached her or him, with camera in hand:
Hi, excuse me, my name is Ross Brown. I'm a local blogger and amateur photographer, and I'm working on a project: I'm compiling a series of photos of total strangers. Would it be okay if I took a photograph of you? No? I'm sorry to have bothered you. Have a nice day. Yes? Great! Let's get you to stand over here. I'm only going to shoot your head and shoulders. Just relax. Look at me... eyes to the lens... be yourself... aaannnd... got it! Thank you very much. Enjoy your day.
If he or she wants to see the shot, I'll show it. If she or he really doesn't like it, I will reshoot, if she or he agrees. If he or she wishes to know where it will be used, I will give him or her my business card.

Sounds easy, right?

I have been out in crowds with my camera on several occasions. I have had countless opportunities to approach people. But in more than six weeks, I haven't approached a single person. Have not used my prepared words on anyone.

My friends and family don't believe it, but I am morbidly shy. I have a fear of talking to people I do not know. I don't do well at one-on-one encounters.

My 365 project isn't really about the photographs. I know how to take pictures, know how to photograph people. The challenge is to overcome my fear of contact with strangers, and this is the true test of growing as an individual.

I haven't given up my project, haven't declined the challenge. But it may take time before I can relax, get over my fear, overcome my shyness.

And some day, soon, I will be able to walk up to someone and say, "Hi, excuse me, my name is Ross Brown... ."

Stay tuned.

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