The Boldness of Photographers: How Do They Do It?

I wrote a while ago about my growing interest in iPhoneography. I by no means consider myself a photographer, but have enjoyed learning more about composing, taking, and editing pictures with my iPhone.

As my interest in this hobby grows, I find myself “seeing” photos as I’m out and about, just living and moving through my normal daily life. Subjects include people, signs, building, landscape, you name it. Problem is, sometimes capturing those images involves me feeling – and probably looking – a little silly.

Below is a picture I took of a field on a corner neighboring our subdivision. The yellow wildflowers made a lovely blanket, and with the trees as a backdrop, you could almost grab this one single image and forget you were in the suburbs.

field of yellow wildflowers

(taken with Hipstamatic app, John S Lens, Ina's 1969 Film, No Flash)

Believe it or not, a busy road runs directly behind where I stood to take this picture, and I got plenty of honks and a few shouts as I crouched out there to get this shot. A little embarrassing!

This next picture is the underside of the bleachers at a high school track. Our son had just finished an event there, and the angles of the structure caught my eye. My husband chuckled as the two of them stood waiting for me to grab this shot. I’m sure several people leaving the event wondered “What on earth is she taking a picture of?”

underside of bleachers

(taken with Camera+ app with the Depth of Field effect and a Frame)

Finally, the picture below is of the steeple at our church’s chapel building. It was taken while I waited for my son to finish with Scouts one night. Several other church members passed me on the walk into the building, looking at me, then looking up, then looking at me again. Also a little embarrassing.

chapel photo

(taken with Hipstamatic app, Jimmy Lens, Blanko Film, No Flash)

I’ve had several other instances of feeling and looking a bit goofy while trying to take a photo: snapping a picture of my neighbor’s brightly-colored flowers (I felt like I was trespassing!), capturing the cows in the field behind my son’s school (what is she doing hanging around school property after hours?), trying to master the “distorted photo effect” with my iPhone (why is she standing in the street, waving her iPhone around in front of her?).

My question is: how do photographers get past that awkwardness? How do they adopt the boldness they need to grab the shot, no matter what others may be thinking while they’re crouched, perched, poised, or positioned in some potentially strange places? One of my newest obsessions is the Humans of New York Facebook Page – photographer Brandon’s “effort to create a photographic census of the city of New York, with an eye toward creating artistic portraits of strangers on the street.” He is nothing if not amazingly bold, and his photos are often genius. How does he do it?

If you’re a photographer, how do YOU do it? I’d love to hear any of your stories or suggestions while I work to get over my timidity and learn to grab more great photos!