For whatever reason, for a long time, I found it easier to photograph people in other countries than I did to photograph people in my own. What was I afraid of? So, I looked at how I approached people in other countries and I realized that because I was genuinely interested in them and their culture I could approach them. I genuinely wanted to make friends and learn about them and this feeling could be conveyed even if I didn’t speak the language. The task was to transfer this to taking people pictures in my own cities and learning how not to be cautious about approaching people. I tried it out in Washington, D.C. in Lafayette Square and on Black Lives Matter Plaza last fall. I engaged in conversation with people I met on the street and then took pictures. Wow! No one threw bricks at me! No one waved me off! Once a real human connection was made there was trust between the subject and me. I was back there this past week and even though everything was changed I found the person I had photographed before and he remembered me!
Getting photos of people at events is a bit easier because you are not really engaging with them individually but getting the photo that records a moment of that event by capturing expressions, emotions, action, etc. In both situations you are making a connection and that connection informs your photograph. You are making a connection with the event by consciously or sub-consciously internalizing the atmosphere, mood, surroundings, etc. all of which contribute to the image you get when you push the shutter button.
As I work on my Jersey Shore project I am engaging directly with many people I have never met before. I have found that most people are very open to letting me photograph them, especially when I explain the project to them. I am excited to see where this photographic journey will take me and encourage everyone to start making connections to improve your photography.