All, Lifestyle, Thoughts

A lesson learned taking portraits of random strangers

Recently I started a photography course. I studied photography at the art academy when I was a student. I always loved the art and enjoy visiting photography exhibitions regularly. I find it very amazing how photographers are able to catch emotion and turn it into a story. I never finished the art academy, which I regret a lot. That’s why I started the photography course, in order to pursue my long lost dream of becoming a professional photographer (that writes, has excellent drawing skills and travels the world, also).

I’m really enjoying the course. It feels like I can make up for lost time and it makes me dream of future plans… I also adopted it in my me-time routine. I make it my personal night out. Every Thursday evening I take myself out for dinner and after that we discuss about aperture and shutter speeds.

After some serious theory lessons, practicing in the studio and photographing still objects we were let loose in Antwerp to practice the real deal. During this field trip we were on a mission to take portraits of random strangers!

I used to be very shy when I was younger, but through the years I learned how to be more open to people I don’t know and I have overcome my shyness to a large extent. However, I am still shy when it comes to asking people, let alone strangers, for something I want or need. This assignment was the ultimate test! I needed to approach random strangers in the streets in a city I’m not familiar with to pose for me. At first I felt incredibly conscious about myself and felt really shy to approach people to ask if I could take their picture. I was lingering about on the street trying to control my heart beat and gather the guts to step up to someone.

Finally I pulled myself together and stepped up to a girl with bright red lipstick on. She reacted very surprised, in a good way, and agreed to pose for my first ever portrait of a stranger. Her positive reaction gave me the confidence I needed to approach my next victim. After a while I noticed it was becoming more and more easy to speak to people. By the end of the day I really got the hang of it and enjoyed approaching people. There was nobody that had said no. In the end I felt quite fulfilled as I had a handful of portraits and they all turned out pretty great!

This proves all the more that magic really does happen outside your comfort zone. People often want to help out, even if they don’t know you. Also sometimes being modest and shy isn’t going to help you get what you want. Valuable lessons learned. I really would like to continue taking portraits of random strangers in the streets. It might even cure me of my unability to ask people for help and make me a little more assertive.

I’m curious to know if you ever did something outside your comfort zone and what it brought you? Or maybe after reading this post you might finally overcome your shyness and change your usual habits! Please share it in the comments below :)