This past week I have been walking the streets of Washington DC and surrounding areas taking shots of the great architecture and textures all around. I was in Georgetown one of the days and I decided to stop into a bar for a burger and iced-tea (yes – just and iced-tea, they didn’t have Guinness on tap).
At one point, a woman next to me sees my camera on the table and asks if I am a photographer. I reply that, well, yeah – I guess I am. (I always have a hard time saying “yes” right away since I enjoy it so much, it doesn’t feel like a real job…). She went on to tell me that she had taken photography in high school and really enjoyed it, but never did it much after that. She told me (rather hesitantly) that she would love to get into it again but that she was afraid to. She pointed to my camera and said, “I wouldn’t know what to do with all those buttons and stuff.”
I quickly pointed out to her that while I do believe photography is an art form, and that just having a camera does not make you a photographer, it really isn’t that scary and that if you have an eye for how to set up a shot, and know what to look for, the rest will follow. When I told her how I got started, how long I have been doing it and why I take photos, she got really excited and started giving me directions to really great places I should see, faster than I could write them down. “Over there,” she said, pointing over my shoulder, “are the famous long stairs that were used in that Exorcist movie…”
After she was done excitedly listing places I had to see, I went on to give her a few more words of encouragement and advice. As she was heading out the door I told her to get a camera of some sort and just start taking pictures. To have fun. I told her that one of the best things about doing what I do is that it makes me more observant and that if nothing else, she will notice things about the city she lives in that she has never truly seen before. She glanced down at her feet, shrugged, and then looked back up at me with a hesitant smile and said she would think about it.
Although I will most-likely never know if she does take up photography again, I really hope she does…