Canon Mark II 1DS Lensbaby Composer ISO 3200 f4@ 1/45th Handheld… available light

Hi Everybody,

Four years ago when I started teaching the Next Step: The Artist Journey Workshops I began my own journey of getting into what I call “Street Portraits” which are mostly impromptu, available light portraits of people I am just meeting (previously known as strangers :) ). I call them Street Portraits but they could be made anywhere (bars, airports, public transportation, etc., etc.,) in addition to on the street.

For a while I have been wanting to start a series called “Hello World” where I ask the people in my Street Portraits one question and record their answer on my Roland Edirol digital recorder and then post their answer with their portrait on my blog. So this is the first in the installment. I will stick with one question for a while. These posts will appear on my blog intermittently as I am able to create them. You can click “Hello World” as a category to see them all. I will post a short backstory about the person and how I met them. And of course I will post the question. Would love to get your suggestions for future questions.

This is Victoria. I met Victoria in my favorite bar in Savannah, Ga….. Guitar Bar. Victoria is a painter, teaches middle school art, is a great conversationalist, and has a great presence and is very generous and open. When I asked Victoria if I could take her picture she spontaneously posed like this. So many people are afraid in front of the camera and just shut down. Thank you Victoria for being fearless !

Here is the question – but first a note about this question. One of the ideas behind The Next Step: The Artist Journey workshop was to help photographers grow their art by identifying their biggest fears and then help them go past the limit of their fear. When I began the Next Step workshops my biggest photographic fear was approaching and photographing strangers (now affectionately called the “strangers I know” :) ). It turns out I wasn’t alone. Approximately 90% of the 121 photographers who have participated in the Next Step Workshops have had as their biggest fear the same fear. Now for the amazing part. Approximately 90% of the strangers we have approached during the Next Step workshops have said yes to having their picture made. Many have become dear friends and have helped us to build a community for our workshops in Savannah that has been nothing short of a miracle. For many participants of the Next Step workshops the experience has been life changing. And most of the life changing experiences that have happened on the Next Step Workshops haven’t come from anything except a miracle that is the nature of our existence if we are willing to let down our guard, get out of our own way, and connect to the love that is all around us all of the time. I call it the 90 / 90 rule. 90 out of one hundred are frozen by the doubt that has been created by choosing fear based beliefs (stories we make up about the future to protect ourselves from the worst case scenario) instead of action. 90 out of a hundred, if you are willing to break the ice and take the risk to get the connection started, will not only say yes to you as a photographer – many will open their hearts and share with you the connection and community we are all longing for. When we are willing to “let our light shine” a world of abundance and connection opens up to us as photographers. We can all be very afraid of rejection. But the nos are evidence of being on the path and we have seen many, many nos turn into yes…especially when the story we tell ourselves (our belief) about no is not yet!!! And remember…once you get the hang of it its mostly yes all of the time! :)

So…the first question….

“What would you say to a photographer who is afraid to ask a stranger if it would be OK to take their picture?”

Click the player to her Victoria’s response:

This entry was written by Craig , posted on Tuesday April 14 2009at 08:04 am , filed under Hello World, Lensbaby, People, Portraits, Savannah . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

10 Responses to ““Victoria””

  • Light Seeker says:

    I love this project. There is an added dimension of connectivity and a “voice” to go along with the memories captured. It is really strange, but I have had a similar project for a little bit now. I LOVE older people…they are so wise and it makes me want to talk to them and be with them to “center” myself. I have been visiting places where there are older people (homes, nursing homes, community centers, etc) and have been collecting a set of images…called wise people. I have also asked them for ONE comment/story about what they have learned about the world during their lives…..and what their wise counsel would be to the world to make it a better/happier place. I too have collected a set of recordings with my Edirol with it. This is a longer term project for me.

    This is why, this post today clicked a lot for me. I think it is a great shot. I loved looking at the image and then listening to Victoria’s voice. The voice also was so friendly…without being flippant. It added a lot to the image post.

    I have a curiosity question…..you seem to have conquered (for the most part) your fear of approaching “strangers you know”. So what is YOUR biggest “photographic” fear now? You seem very confident with your photography. So does that mean you don’t have any fears in this regard. I KNOW fear is not a healthy thing. But sometimes….in a strange way….fear (I call it tension) is something I sometimes need to “try and move towards it”. Kind of like ….if all is well…I get bored and need to ” conquer another tension in my life”. The way I am stating this could sound counter to all the self help teachings….but I am so goal orented (and I feel some others might be too)….that I need a bit of a fear to keep me “growing”.

    The point here is that….I do agree that fears need to be conquered to lead a richer, fuller, more connected life….but fear itself is not 100% bad….don;t you think? I don;t even like saying this…but wondered about this thought. Any comment?

    Anyway, great image.

  • Craig says:

    Hey Light Seeker,

    Thank you for being here and thank you for a great post. Looking forward to seeing and hearing the fruition of your project.

    First I would hardly say I have conquered the fear of the approach. Its still there and as I told the participants on the last Next Step workshop its still my biggest fear with my camera and I still let it stop me too much from following my intuition and from making a connection…. but to be fair to myself I have come along way in dealing with this fear from four years ago. Demoing in front of people with my camera is also pretty damn scary. And showing work that I am heavily invested in is scary too !!!

    I also had quite a bit of fear connected to my commercial work. I was always very apprehensive about the work meeting client expectations which had gotten to a place where those expectations were extremely high.

    My biggest fear as an artist for the last four years was performing at an open mic (playing my guitar and singing). I went past that fear after our last Next Step workshop in Savannah. I did a three song set at Molly MacPhersons and it was extremely liberating. Finally taking action to deal with this fear came about largely because of the death of my dear friend Shadow, The Portuguese Waterdog.

    I dedicated the set to him and played an original song (Over the Side with Sorrow) for him. Its sort of amazing how being around or near death reminds of us how fantastically f___ing petty our little fears are.

    I rewarded myself with a new guitar (a Martin D 35 YIPPEEEEEE!!!!!) and I am already lining up more open mic gigs. So thank you Shadow and special thanks to Jack Sherman for imploring me to reward myself with a world class guitar and for helping me find the guitar and helping me damn near get it at cost.

    But without any doubt the fear that still has the biggest limiting effect on my photography is the fear of the approach.

    And about your last point…. yes… fear is great in that it defines a limit. And as long as we are aware of that then we can consciously choose to go past the limit (if we are ready) and have a new experience… and I believe that consciously experiencing new things in the service of our joy and the highest vision we have for ourselves (love) is work that lets us experience joy and liberates others from their fears (service). Sounds like your new project !….Craig

  • Mark Sirota says:

    Fantastic project, Craig. I look forward to hearing more of these tidbits — do you plan to ask the same question to each person, or will the question evolve over time, or will you make it up on the fly? Or have a question in mind before you find a person to ask?

    It reminds me of Charles’ coin-flipping approach (I’m not sure whether to reveal details here — you can if you like, or let me know if you’d like me to). I’d love to hear a collection of the responses he gets… Maybe I’ll suggest that to him.

  • Craig says:

    Hey Mark,

    Thank you for being here!

    I plan on asking the same question for a while and then moving on to another question. I would love to hear suggestions about other questions to ask.

    And I would love to see / hear you tell the Charles story just minus the details of the assignment since this is sort of the top of the arc in the Artist Journey on the Next Step Workshop. I return to Savannah in two days and will be there for almost a week working on a variety of things and would love to hear about anymore information you have learned regarding Charles. I plan on trying to contact him on this trip……Craig

  • mgrigsby says:

    What a “CUTE” street portrait Craig! This is obviously a person that likes to have fun. I enjoyed Victorias answer to your question. I don’t seem to share the fear of approaching strangers with my camera and maybe I’m missing a key photographer’s gene? :0) This even after being verbally attacked by a homeless man in Denver when I asked for his photo and I was just a teenager. I thought I was going to be harmed and lose my camera — neither happened and I got the photo. Since then I find a longer intro/conversation with no reference to the camera at first is a better approach. The one thing I always do is offer a print and/or a little money to the person willing to accept my request. I love it when the person chooses the print!

    This is my first comment since getting back from vacation. You wouldn’t think an old retired guy would get behind on things that needed to be done, but I sure did. So now that I’m some what coaught up maybe I can get back envolved here and at TME.


  • Craig says:

    Hey Murray,

    Thank you for being here!

    Happy you like this portrait. Victoria is a beautiful person. Your advice about making the connection is great and is a suggestion we make on all of our workshops where we work on getting better at these types of exchanges. Slowing down and genuinely trying to share something with the person first before making a request for help is a great way to have a mutual exchange that takes both people to a higher place than they were before. Very thankful you are back Murry and thank you so much for all of your support!….Craig

  • Craig says:

    Thank you Mark for posting this. I wish we could tell the rest of the story (s) :) !!!…..Craig

  • aprilS says:

    What a delightful portrait. Victoria looks like someone I would love to get to know; looking at her, I can’t help but smile.

    Too, what a wonderful project and great first question! It strikes me that this reaches out not only between you two, but also to your audience of photographers in a uniquely personal way. I imagine a dynamic triangle…

  • Kenny says:

    This is a great project Craig and as usual your it is your spirit, love and compassion that comes through. I so hope one day to get on a plane to Savannah and join you for a workshop!

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