I’ve met more people in my life as a result of my camera than any other way. Of course, I talk to strangers all the time. In fact, I don’t think of them as strangers, but just people sharing life with me, and we are all a part of this something, whatever is is, together, We are in effect friends that haven’t yet met.
Dr Laurie Santos, a Yale professor whose podcast is The Happiness Lab has a podcast episode, Mistakenly Seeking Solitude about just that. I so relate to it–we need human connection and social interaction. It’s vital to life.
And the camera is the greatest way to create that introduction. It’s countless the number of times that a Rolleiflex or 4×5 camera has led me to conversations with people. Or their portrait. People are really not as scary as we’ve made them out to be. Strangers are just strange because we haven’t said hello yet. Once we do, they’re no longer strangers.
It’s a simple thing, to carry a camera (preferably a gorgeous Leica or something that shoots film and looks like a piece of art) and then to approach people to photograph their portrait. I suspect a photographer who did nothing but go out into public and ask to photograph people ‘because they look amazing’, that photographer would make a lot of days. People would leave the encounter with a smile on their face, and a bit of joy in their heart, for being selected and the honor of being photographed.
There are no strangers. Let’s go out and meet our neighbors, the ones we know and the ones we will soon know. And say hello to those who cross our path. Their interaction with us makes our day better too, adds a bit of joy to our day.