Street Photography: Insecurity

One of my first shots that day. They were stopping along the way and kept looking and talking about me which made me even more insecure. Never have that feeling, but that day was different...

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In a previous blog I wrote about overcoming your fear. This article isn't about fear, but rather about insecurity. Especially how I got over this that particular day.

On Friday the 10th of July my wife Sandra and I went downtown to shoot the streets. The moment we arrived I had this unsettled feeling that the atmosphere was very different from what it usually is and not in a good way. I didn't mention it to Sandra although she later told me she had the exact same feeling. 

We decided to have lunch and a drink first and walk the streets after that. After we finished we both went our way. The feeling was still there and made me insecure which I normally don't experience at all when going out shooting the streets. I decided to hang out in front of a building where the sun was reflecting in the windows and try to shoot with that scene as a decor. Immediately after my first shot that feeling of insecurity was confirmed, seeing my subjects stopping after they passed me, talking to each other while watching me in the back. It made me very uncomfortable and even more insecure. Besides that, I still hadn't succeed in taking the shot I was looking for. After a few more of those failures, I finally got it... These subjects also stopped at the opposite of the street and kept watching me while talking to each other. I just kept shooting the building without subjects pretending I didn't see them and was just making pictures of the building. This 'sneakyness' is not really my style and it kept giving me that uncomfortable feeling.

Going on like this for the rest of the afternoon wasn't an option for me, so what to do next? Many past life experiences have tought me that the best way to deal with a problem is to confront yourself with it as head on as possible. This made me decide to seek the confrontation with my subjects if I would notice that they would behave as I've described earlier. So when I went on and took a shot (see below) I noticed that the subjects were unsettled, but walked on. From the corner of my eyes I saw them stopping a few times and watching me. They were already at least 30 meters away, but I decided to start walking towards them (as they moved on, I even ran a bit) and catched up with them. They immediately started asking questions, but in a decent way. Of course they were decent, why wouldn't they be? After all it was me taking the initiative to engage with them. After explaining myself, offering them my card and to email them the photograph, they smiled and everything was fine. We all went our way and I noticed my feeling of insecurity started to come down a bit. After my second and third engagement my feeling of insecurity disapated completely. 

Not a good shot, but these are the people I described above... Click to enlarge.

She actually appologised to me for being in my way. When she moved on, I walked towards here and explained what I was doing, gave her my card and we said goodbye. Her boyfriend contacted me to get the picture. They were very happy with it.

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Mother and daughter. The same approach here... I walked towards them after they moved on and explained what I was doing before. They also contacted me later to get the picture and were very friendly about it.

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When Sandra and I met later that day and told her about my experiences, she told me she had that same feeling all day and had two verbally aggressive encounters that day which never happens to her in that way. By that confirming the unusual uncomfortable vibe in downtown Rotterdam that day.

So feeling insecure? Approach your subjects and have a conversation. It helps... They do not expect you to take their photograph, but also not that you would approach a complete stranger to have a conversation about what you are doing. Remain calm, polite and friendly... Nobody will be agressive then...

Feel free to contact me through the contact form, in the below comment section or Facebook.

Good luck and all the best!

Willem