A Camera Will Open the World

Over a couple of post lately I have been writing about the tension between creativity and technique. I have talked about the camera as a tool, not the purpose in itself, and I have pointed out that whatever camera you use or have is for most situations more than good enough. My point has been to emphasize the need to make our creative work come from the heart, and let technique and the camera be but a tool for our heart – although still something we need to learn and need to master as creative photographers.

Nevertheless I have to admit that the camera has been more than a technical tool when it comes to my photography. It has actually helped setting my mind free. I am not trying to contradict myself or my previous posts; I only bring to the table something I have actually experienced.

When my interest for photography aroused many years ago, it was mainly routed in nature and landscape photography, mostly because I have always been an outdoor junkie, but maybe also because it was the easier way around when it comes to subject matter. I simple did not have to relate with or take into consideration anybody else. After some time I started to develop an interest in street photography, though, probably as a natural extension of my passion for travelling. But back then I was pretty shy, and I approached street photography with a 200 millimetre lens – from far away. The result was equally remote and uninteresting.

I remember I read articles and interviews with famous photographers stating that photographing had enhanced their own experiences on many levels not the least in getting in touch with people from all corners of the world and of any and every kind. They talked about how the camera was a way to get into people’s lives. Back then I had a hard time grasping this, not the least seeing myself approaching people on the street. Why would anyone let a complete stranger take a photograph of them? I simply didn’t have the courage to get into their faces. But slowly and over time, my lenses became shorter and my courage increased in reverse proportion. I started to interact with people around me wherever I went and I started to photograph them. In the beginning only a single snap or two and then back up and out again, but eventually I started to relate with people I wanted to photograph on a more profound level. Suddenly I found myself in the same place as those famous photographs I had read about. And at some point my 200 mm was replace by a 17 mm (which I later on mostly have abandoned again because it tends to distort people too much when you shoot half a meter away from their faces).

For a long time it still drained me to shoot on the street, and after a day of shooting I could be completely exhausted. I remember quite some time ago; I had been travelling in South East Asia for half a year, and on my way back I had a stop-over in Karachi in Pakistan for 36 hours or something like that. On any given day I would use such an opportunity to go out and shoot for most of the time available. But after having pushed myself onto the street for the most part of half a year, I couldn’t face it one more time. I was too exhausted and I stayed in my hotel all those hours without venturing out even once.

Today I mostly don’t feel uncomfortable approaching strangest on the street or in ghettoes or in camps or wherever my photography or travels take me. Mostly, because some days are still set to be my introvert days, but I find that quite OK. Nevertheless by using the camera and being willing to go out of my comfort zone, I have been able extend my photographic experience and open up myself to the world. The camera has brought the world to me.

A final note to those of you who read my post Glitter and Finery (and not at all relate to this post). Yesterday I finally got my dancing shoes out. If you can call them dancing shoes, that is. It was the ending of the season at Stephens Pass alpine skiing and it was celebrated with an outdoor discothèque. We jumped in although we had nothing but heavy ski boots – like everybody else. Great fun!


176 thoughts on “A Camera Will Open the World

  1. Beautiful photo and post. Very astute introspection there, I too am extremely shy although much better these days. It is such a waste of time and opportunity when we are so shy!

  2. “The camera has brought the world to me.” There is so much happening in this stunning shot but the four sets of eyes pull me in, forcing me to look them in the eyes and see each of them in turn.
    I now live in a city where I know very few people but I am so grateful for the company of my camera and I am always so surprised at how much strangers enjoy being photographed, and put themselves up for it – if only because I am so much more comfortable behind the camera.
    Thank you for this wonderful post Otto, so much to think about. Look after yourself!

  3. Otto, it’s so wonderful to read this post of yours. To learn about your obstacles and successes within the photographic world; from what I have seen, you capture excellent shots as exemplified by the photograph above. I am trying to gain that same confidence in shooting ‘up close and personal’ on the street but I must admit that there is one hindrance… I am too acclimatised to the auto focus versus manual mode. This means I either miss a shot or if my manual isn’t set up properly to capture a moment, I get a blurry shot. Poor technique is at play here – I was wondering if you had any advice on this? As you know, I am new to photography so manual doesn’t resonate with me as easily. Would be very appeciative of your feedback. Bravo on a great post. (and spending 36 hours in a hotel? Argh! You must have been very exhausted.)

    1. Well, the first question that comes to mind is whether the blurry shots are blurry because of an unsteady camera or because the focus was wrong? On the street particularly if we are a little shy, we tend to hast around, which easily makes the photos blurry. So maybe you only need to start shooting with a faster shutter speed. The other idea is gonna be to go manual, despite the fact that it doesn’t resonate with you well. You can’t beat autofocus unless you have 20 years of experience – and hardly even then. So why go manual? My point is not to try to focus manually but make the camera respond quicker when it doesn’t have to focus. Set the camera to manual focus, set the distance to 3 meters (or 9-10 feet) and the aperture to f/11. If you then use a lens between 28 mm or 35 mm (or the equivalent for a none full frame camera), everything from a one meter (about 3 feet) to infinity will be sharp. You and the camera then don’t have to think about focus at all – and you can respond quicker to whatever is happening on the street. By the way set the camera mode to aperture priority automatic exposure so the camera chooses the right shutter time for the exposure (and maybe use a higher iso setting so you get a fast enough shutter speed cf. what I just wrote above).

      One more thought when it comes to street photography. The best advise I can give is to stay long, I mean really long with any situation. We often tend to jump in, catch a picture and then jump out again. But if you stay with the situation, keep shooting until people get tired of you or stop noticing you, that is when you start to get really good shots. And you are able to calm down so that a quick shutter speed is less of a necessity. And when staying with the situation I mean anything from a quarter to an hour – and maybe 50 and upwards pictures.

      1. Dear Otto, thank you for your response. Yes, hastiness might have something to do with it but I need to overcome that by just getting out there. My main concern is the focus as I am so reliant on auto and it takes a while to get that steady… so i will try your tip. Thank you so much! I also think I do not hang around enough so I will… there should be many moments to capture. I’ll set myself the challenge. This is a whole new world to me – I cannot believe that one can be humbled so much through learning a new art. Thank you very much. I look forward to your next post 🙂

  4. Great post right from the heart of Otto! AND, oh, my!! An outdoor disco, that must have been awesome!! So happy to hear you got your dancing in! 🙂 *cheering*
    See ya!

  5. First, great photo. Second, your post really resonates with me. This is exactly the way I feel – generally too shy to approach people on the street, and very tiring to do so. i love nature, landscape, and macro, but your post helps me see that i do also limit myself at times.

  6. How great that you danced under the influence of that glorious moon!
    You are so right; it always amazes me how willing – and oftentimes honored – a stranger is when asked if it’s ok to take their photo, and it sometimes dominoes right on down the street. The camera is a great tool for unique and enriching cultural exchanges. Z

  7. Thanks for sharing this. The photo is fantastic and I love to read about your experiences and thoughts about photography.

  8. And you, in turn, have brought worlds to us! A lovely shot, as yours always are. Thank you for sharing. Love living vicariously through your lens.

  9. Great post, I still have trouble with shooting people, but horses and nature are my thing. I feel very close to my subject when I am done photographing them. I think this does not just apply to people.

  10. Great post and the image is amazing. I’m not a street photographer yet I sometimes see great subjects to photograph. Maybe years ago I would of done something like that but now a days, people freak out when you ask theme if you can photograph theme! They start thinking, well what does this guy wants to photograph me!. I have one quite interested yet a bit of a scary subject. Many years ago, I was driving around Texas, and I came upon this lake that was very popular and beautiful. I got out of my car and started photographing. I came across this family, with a boy. He was adorable!! I think around the age of 6. He’s mom started talking to me while the dad was fishing, she ask me if I photographed people, I said, yes I do but only in location. She got all excited and asked me what I charged. I said, well it all depends. I gave her my cell number for her to call me when she was ready. Suddenly she tells me, oh can you photograph my kid? I said sure, I will send it to you. The kid was in the truck. As I got closer , he was with no shirt and he’s underwear cause he was playing in the lake. The shot came out awesome, he was standing on the sit by the steering wheel. I got home, and started downloading the images, suddenly I see the kids image and say, wow that looks so cool. Well, had some friends over and they brought other friends with theme. They tell me, oh show us the images you took, I said sure. Well, they start seeing the images and suddenly the kid one pops up! One of the girls looks at me and tells me, what is that all about! I’m like what? She’s like that kid! Why did you photograph him with no shirt and on he’s undies! I’m like well his mom asked me to and I’m sending to her. She just looked at me with a face of disgust! My friend tells her, whats wrong? What came out of her mouth was: Well it seems to me that your friend likes little kids and that to me looks like kids pornography! I almost had a heart attack! All I said was well it all depends on how you look at it and it seems that you have a hell of a dirty mind! Well, you know that night did not go very well. It just hunted me and I looked at the image and said to myself. It looks a bit weird and I guess she just put that on my head and I deleted that image!…We live in times when taking peoples images is such a fragile subject. Theirs others that don’t care at all and they love it. Some just look at you like, if you are crazy!…

    1. Yes, sometimes you get strange response from people, but you would be surprised how often not. Even in the middle of New Your people are more than willing to let you capture them. Kids are of course a touchy theme, but I also notice that some people have a really close-minded idea about what is appropriate and not. Just think about all the negative remarks that Sally Mann got from her photo project Immediate Family. As long as you have a clear mind about what you are doing, you should not let anybody get to you with their blinders.

  11. Oh my, I love how your soul is showing, Otto. Thank you for putting your journey into words and showing how you and your camera work in partnership – neither one being a slave to the other. After receiving someone’s permission to photograph them, I find it’s necessary to take many shots so at least one natural one can be found.

    Do you promise to send people one of the photos? Do you take numerous shots, then say goodbye? If so, how do you think or feel about that?

    1. I think your attitude is right. When people let you photograph them, keep shooting till you have something that captures their true spirit. How I connect with people in the shooting process both determines how good my pictures are gonna be, as well as whether or not I will send them pictures afterwards. I certainly don’t mind sending pictures, and if someone asks specifically about them, I always send. Paying money to photograph somebody is a different story though, and I tend not to be willing to do so. Then I’d rather not photograph them.

  12. An interesting post that I can relate to. Like some of the other responders, people photography isn’t my main interest, but my cameras have been an enabler that have allowed me to re-find my creative side, and taken me on a journey across my country in pursuit of my long running project. The knock on effect has been me creating my website and blog, which has introduced me to new friends and new opportunities. An interesting new world has opened up for me as the result of me using these clever little black boxes!

  13. Thank you for writing about your thoughts on what is now called ‘street photography’. You always have to show courtesy to those you photograph and exercise care and a smile goes along way to breaking down the initial barrier to conversation.

    The image is great, relaxed…. yet you are being watched and evaluated.

  14. The way they are looking at you in this photo is really stunning! You are correct, it’s about the relationship between people and photographer. Be open, be honest, be close. Establish a relation is useful to get a nice photo. And sometimes you can also discover a new friend.

  15. So I like of various iconic Life magazine photos, I assume the BINGO moment is when the photographer uses their heart to capture the moment, and then the moment transcends to the viewer’s heart, mind, and soul.

    1. Hello aFrankAngle,

      Wow. Liked the way you put it. Agree. Its tough but it happens more often when we keep at it, practicing all the time. Cheers. 🙂


  16. Well said. I have used parades and public events as an opportunity. I still find it difficult ask people to pose. I prefer to catch them as they go about their activities. I find folks tolerant. It is rare that anyone on the street has turned away from the camera. But you still try to be sensitive.

  17. I spent some time just examining the photo before I even looked at the copy. I often do this with your posts. This is a powerful image and I wanted to take in every detail and nuance. Of course, none of these images you share would be possible without that inner heart of the photographer who captures them. Thanks you for sharing the photos and the man behind the photos.

  18. Too bad we don’t have a picture of you dancing in your ski boots! I’m really drawn by the eyes of the people in this photo. It makes me wonder about them and their lives, which I suppose is the point of these kinds of subjects? Nicely done, and I appreciate your sharing about how you felt working into taking these kinds of photos.

  19. Otto, this is a powerful post with many insights. And the photo is equally powerful. It is said that introverts gather energy when alone and expend it when with others; extroverts just the opposite. I do tend to become exhausted when around other people too much but I don’t view my preference for alone time as a disadvantage, rather it allows me to approach people photography from a more considered stance and also to know when to quit. I tend to use my iPhone for “street photography” because it creates less of a barrier between me and the subject and I have become increasingly comfortable about approaching others, especially when I know that my goal is to capture something essential in them, not to embarrass them or misuse their image.

    1. The iPhone is great for its less intrusive way of taking pictures. Most of the time people hardly notice that their picture is taken.

  20. Another thought-provoking post, Otto. I too tend to photograph landscapes and images of the natural world, rather than people. I have, however, done some event photography, of military parades and military tattoos, etc. where people don’t mind being approached with a camera, and in fact appreciate it – I make a point of sending them copies of the best images afterwards though. I have never tried street photography or on-the-street portraits of strangers; I am too self-conscious – and I also don’t necessarily want them to *pose* for the camera, as some people become very awkward in front of the lens. I admire photographers who don’t have any fears of approaching strangers though!

    1. There are two approaches to street photography, either you shoot candidly – wait for the situation or react quickly to something happening – or you approach people and shoot in full awareness. In case of the latter I tend to keep shooting until they get tired of me and to forget about my whereabouts. That’s when they reveal their true character.

  21. I think, one of the most beautiful things in my blogger life (especially with wordpress) is to meet you… Always I learn something about photography, and I find inspirational points, or exciting touches… You are almost a master for me in photography. Once I read in somewhere else, a photographer adviced to the young photographers to go out… to travel with their camera… As you told camera will open the world… How true… Photography is amazing and so exciting too… I am not where I started my photography, no I am not saying my photographical knowledge or experiences… so many things added my soul, my thoughts, actually to me, to nia… And I am so glad to have a blogger friend like you dear Otto. Thank you so much… In the end, while you were talking about dancing shoes, you made me excited again but but then I understand what you were talking about…:) This should be a great celebration… Have a nice and enjoyable day, with my love, nia

  22. Otto, sending more admiration your way;your photos capture the ease with the people you are photographing. While I have no trouble talking with strangers, I have never been able to approach a stranger and request a shot. I should rethink my fear. Also, as a blogger you are able to articulate what many of us visual types cannot. Wonderful discussion, great photographer, & interested, kind and terrific blogger:)

  23. I am so glad to hear your express how you can face fatigue after a whole day of photographing! I don’t think that’s discussed very often, but it would be very challenging to approach others and need to take into consideration a line between capturing an intimate scene and still respecting space of others. One of the things that I most appreciate about you is your total respect for others. The camera has brought the world to you, and you in turn share it with others..and me! I love beautiful scenes from exotic lands and gorgeous world landscapes I will probably never see in person, but I love the faces of people from all over the world. The faces tell stories I long to hear! I somehow have missed the “glitter and finery” post, I think. I want to read it now, too….I love a good disco…or I should probably say that I used to! 🙂 Debra

  24. You mention “. . . being willing to go out of my comfort zone.” Don’t know which I like better . . . that thought or the photos! Thanks!

  25. I am also very shy; which sometimes comes in the way of what I really want to create. But after reading these words of yours, I just hope that one day I can cross this barrier of mine. And I am really happy hearing that, after so much time at last you could able to get your dancing shoes out.
    Thank you for this inspiring post.

  26. I find this post most interesting. I absolutely agree that the camera is a tool and most cameras now are ‘for most purposes more than good enough’. For health reasons, I had to abandon the cumbersome weight of my SLR plus spare body, plus tripod, plus an assortment of lenses etc several years ago. I had to resort to a compact – currently a TZ8 – and, horror of horrors, I turned to digital photography. The results have been interesting: (i) my photography has been given a new lease of life; (ii) my subjects are close at hand (often in my own garden); (iii) I have become more adventurous in my photography, more experimental. My point is, that although because of circumstances, the camera available to me now does not match the quality of my earlier equipment, it has not quelled my passion. Indeed, I feel that much of my work now is superior to most of my earlier efforts. Creativity comes from within, as your opening paragraph so clearly states, and not from the capabilities of the camera alone.

    1. Just another point of the great possibilities that comes with new technology – even if any camera will make art in the right hands. But turning to digital is by no means any horror, it’s just another possibility which seems to work perfectly for you. Great!

  27. I really enjoyed this article Otto. I am basically a shy person, but have become much more outgoing when the camera is in my hand. Since I work from home during the week, I just need to get myself out more on the weekends amongst people and start practicing. Your posts always motivate me!

  28. Hello, Sir Otto,

    I love your story – how the camera opened the world for you and helped you overcome your shyness… i love the mini-story in the end even better, though. the dancing shoes finally took the stage, ahaha. 😉 hope things are going along great. cheers! 🙂

  29. This entry speaks volumes for me. I love photography and all it allows you to see in the world. Yet, I find myself having the exact same problem as you. Going up to people in the heart of London was never something I was brave enough to do. I stood across the street with the same ‘200mm lens’ hoping that the one or two shots I was able to take would come out. Now, I’m living in Dubai and feel even less confident going up to people and taking their pictures. I find at times thinking, ‘wow, what an incredible shot that would be!’ but lose it moments later when the person has moved from that spot/stance. The only time I can really capture people well enough is when I’m at family events and they’re more than happy to have me take their photo. This is great and all, but my interest still lies in Street Photography. And the few photos I was able to take up close (on our trip through Sri Lanka–tea pickers) I felt myself rushing to ensure I didn’t irritate them. I hope that I eventually gain the same confidence that you have clearly done. Thanks for posting this 🙂

  30. Thank you for sharing your story and insights. I too felt a little shy about street photography but now I find it wonderful. You get to meet so many different types of people and they all wantyou to take their pictures. I try to capture them without posing and natural.


  31. It makes sense to me that this would be the case. I think maybe it comes from a desire to be creative and connect to the work you love so much that forces you out of that comfort zone. Love and addiction are the two things that will make people do things they normally wouldn’t, like step out of their comfort zones.

  32. Another inspired post post Otto. I found that when I began writing short pieces of prose to accompany my photographs I opened up a whole way of seeing what I was creating or had created … a new way of explaining (not least to myself) what was going on my head.

  33. Det er alltid interessant og inspirerende lesning her inne! Takk for at du deler av din historie, erfaring og kunnskap! Jeg nyter å lese hvert innlegg!
    Bildene dine viser meg at du har god kontakt med de menneskene du fotograferer. Sterke uttrykk i bilde over! Jeg blir så nysgjerrig på historien deres…
    Jeg liker aller best å fotografere folk, var så “heldig” at jeg var i Asia, da jeg startet med foto, Jeg har erfart at det er lettere å komme tettere på og få kontakt med folk her enn hjemme i Norge. Det er ikke så lett å ta bilder av folk på gata der (men det skal sies at jeg heller ikke har prøvd så hardt heller : )) Her har jeg faktisk opplevd at folk har kommet bort til meg og spurt om å bli tatt bilde av : ) Dette var helt spesiellt i Xinjiang provinsen.

    Hjertelig takk for kommentarer på mine bilder! Jeg setter stor pris på at nettopp du, med det du står for, gir meg tilbakemeldinger! Selv er jeg den totale amatør, hva gjelder all teknikk! Men jeg har erfart at jeg lett får kontakt med folk, og på den måten kommer jeg “tett på” ; )

    Du er en stor inspiratør og motivator!

  34. Beautifully written as always Munchow! I have a question. When you approach people, do they have to sign a privacy or permission paper or is it a verbal agreement. I was just curious. Did you get to do some John Travolta dance moves? Glad you had a good time!

  35. As a photojournalist, I regularly cover events and have no trouble aproaching people, taking their photo, visiting with them and asking their names. But on the street, at parks, or even out in the country, I sometimes feel shy about asking if I can take people’s picture. I don’t want to push into their private lives. Sort of a contradiction, I know.

    1. It is quite different to shoot people at an event. I don’t think twice about it either. Everybody knows what is going on and as a photographer I am just doing my part of the job. The street is very different simply because you are asking someone to give of themselves out of context so to speak. It’s a very interesting and different dynamic. I have experience that photographing for instance indigenous people in some Latin countries is almost impossible on the street, but as soon as they are participating in a rally or some sort of celebration, it’s complete OK.

  36. Great photo Otto, You capture the moments of real life! Real people..
    You can even see emotion in their faces.. It makes me wonder, what are they thinking about at that very moment?
    Myself I can’t yet jump into photography of strangers, maybe one day.
    Thanks for your recent visit!

  37. Otto, it’s good to hear you emphasise that equipment is possibly the least important factor in producing good images; I too have been stressing this fact during my workshops. Indeed, when I called my first blog ‘Minimalistics’, it didn’t refer to the photographic style, but to working with a minimal amount of equipment, namely the one camera and one lens; used for all 300 plus posts…alas the old blog is no longer on-line.

    The main points I was making however, is that by using minimal equipment, the photographer gets to know it intimately and this has three benefits…using it becomes second nature; if settings are inadvertently changed, it becomes noticeable much quicker; and you don’t need to keep a mule to carry all the gear. It’s a thought that’s equally applicable to landscape and street photography.

    1. Minimal equipment is a very good approach. I just bought a little Fuji X10 point-and-shoot camera, and that is almost all I need for most of my work. Particularly when it comes to street photography, it’s perfect. It’s inobtrussive and hardly noticeable.

  38. Great Photograph!

    I can relate to the idea of the world ‘coming to you’ through the camera. It is also interesting to think of the measurement of the lens and the impact it can have on the ‘social distance’ between the photographer and the photographed.

    I would try to reformulate and summarise the post thus: (kindly let me do so 🙂 )

    Whereas traveling lets you explore the world, something like photography aids this exploration in that it shapes it and in a technical manner also ‘vouchs’ for it when required.

    May be then, we can think of relationships also in terms of ‘cameraic’ metaphors such as exposure, lens and optical quality. (I know it is sth totally off the mark and stupid….yet could be possible that I am referring to some interesting way of understanding a man’s relationship with the world. Do share what you feel)


    1. I think this is a very interesting thought. The camera does help starting relationships, it does expand my experience when I travel. Through the camera I get in touch with people, but at the same it increases my level of observation, I become much more conscious aware of everything going on around me. And yes, relationships do involve exposure to each other, opening up for each other (like apertures) and spending time together (as in shutter speed). I like this use of «cameraic» metaphors.

  39. I can completely identify with everything you have said here, but you have stated it so eloquently. It is always such a pleasure and a learning experience to visit you here.
    Thank you!!!

  40. Another wonderful post Otto. This is something that I need to work at…street photography. It’s interesting I’m not a shy person by nature but put a camera in my hand and that’s when I get a bit shy about approaching people.

  41. Interesting to read this, because in January of this year – soon after I’d first met you and your wonderful blog – I gave you a gift (instead of an award) and the gift was a photo I’d taken in South Africa. I’m also not comfortable asking people if I can take their photo, but I’m slowly getting confident about “going out of my comfort zone” and of all the shots I took of that beautiful country I chose one of a young woman posing for me with a bunch of proteas (the national flower!) as your gift.
    As I said, how interesting.

  42. I love the image of you dancing with your ski boots on!! This is a wonderful post, Otto, and very helpful to me. I love photographing people but like you, I become shy and lose my confidence. I’ve gotten better but have a ways to go. Thanks for the encouragement!

      1. I agree. Sometimes they shoo you away, sometimes they open up. One has to take the plunge 🙂 Got my best shots that way. But still a long way to go. Cheers again Otto.

  43. Hi,

    I was passing by and am I grateful, I stopped ! You seem to possess the gift of showing your very inner emotions through your post and photos.Plan to come back again.


    Shakti Ghosal

  44. Great post. I recognize much of your story – and I have not come far in photographing people – yet. Your great photo tells you how far you’ve come!

  45. The camera does open the eyes of the World to “real” human pain, struggles and suffering. It also opens the photographer’s eyes to the rawness of reality. Some of which may seem unbelievable but not to those who actually experience them in a day to day basis. When I went to the Philippines, I had some days where I had to get our of my comfort zone. I would go to places that gave me a lot of humbling experiences. I’m glad that I did. Great post my friend…

  46. Living in a rural setting, I do not have many opportunities to photograph people, so I generally capture what is available to me and I am quite content with that at this point in time. But, I admire people like you that include portraiture in their photography portfolio — it is a gift. 🙂

  47. Very well described post. Its important to be introvert once in while – it gives a great breakthrough. Street photography! I have no guts to attempt this! But the thought of it quite excites me. Something very interesting. Mostly its photography of the nature & the landscape or taking pictures of the family & friends. But strangers? Wow!! 🙂

    1. You “just” have to throw yourself into the street and in front of people. It does sound scary – at least to begin with, but that’s how it works for all of us.

  48. Hello, Otto. Interesting read. I’m also impressed by your courage to brave the streets to shoot depictions of everyday street life in so many places. It must be exciting. Have you published your photos? They speak volumes.

  49. Best title I’ve ever had the privelige of reading on WordPress – or anywhere else for that matter!
    Great work overall, my freind!

  50. Great post Otto. A lot of times we feel that others photographers don’t have the same struggles and fears as we do. It is great to read how you have overcame your struggles. As for me, I think that I’ll stick to landscapes for now. LOL

  51. Very nice photos and the poses and expressions on the peoples’ faces leaves a lot of questions. I do beleive that the camera is an excellent tool for exploring other cultures and learning more about the people who “make the world go round.”

  52. I really hesitate when it comes to photographing people. I mean people I don’t know. I feel like I’m intruding and don’t want to make them uncomfortable. And I’d really like for the photographs to be natural, not posed or how they think you’d like the photo to be. Then there are cultural aspects where people object to photographs on principle. I do have to say though that the few times that I have approached people to photograph them, the responses have been really positive.

    1. The fact is that the one most uncomfortable is the photographer. As soon as one start to realise that it becomes much easier to photograph people you don’t know. As for posed photographs I agree, but approaching people on the street doesn’t mean the photos will have to be posed. It comes to patience and being able to connect.

  53. The beautiful group portrait sits me right down among your subjects, their relaxed and interested expressions offering an interaction, not just a viewing.
    It’s encouraging and instructive to read about your efforts to use photography to really connect to other people in this wide world.
    Thank you very much!

  54. A wonderful post, I really enjoyed it. I felt like you were telling my story. I am a young photographer and most of my work has been based around nature, but I have become more and more intrigued by street photography. I think it could open a new world for me as far as the quality of my work and my shyness : ) Thank you so much for sharing and congrats.

  55. Wow, you were freshly pressed again! 🙂
    I’ll spend two months in Norway. I’ll be going to Ålesund in the end of june.
    Nice post!

  56. Congratulations, you deserve this platform for others to see your work. I was Freshly Pressed in January. Get ready for a wild next few days; you will be astounded at the attention and traffic. I hope that you will enjoy all of it, Sally

  57. Great post. And I agree with you “Gamera is more than a technical tool”…..
    Thanks for sahring.

  58. This inspires me “by using the camera and being willing to go out of my comfort zone, I have been able extend my photographic experience and open up myself to the world.”

    My introverted nature has definitely put limits on my life experiences. You have just inspired me to take some chances and step out of my uncomfortable comfort zone. Thank you for that. 🙂

  59. Otto, I read your post and chuckle to myself because you sound like a quintessential Pisces person. The sensitivities you experience on the streets, the shyness, and the love for photography. Then you mention dusting off dancing shoes. Hello! Your post also provides imagery in the form of writing.

  60. Great blog and photos and congrats on being freshly pressed! I would also like to move on to street/people photography, but too shy/reluctant/hesitant/out of my comfort zone to ask people if I can take their pictures. I think that this post, and your blog, will help me overcome that.

  61. Thanks to photography – along with all the photographers and photoblogs around the web – ..now I can travel around the world, Kenya-Antwerp-Norway-Tokyo-Seoul , without leaving any airplanes..Wonderful essay and makes me love more in capturing the world, at least around me…thank you..

  62. Great post. You have inspired me. I remember the first time I used a small camcorder in a car show and how people opened up to me. I am now writing and will try to pick up a camera and see how it will integrate. Thank you.

  63. This post came at the right time.. I let go of an opportunity to photograph someone on the street today because I was shy. Need to let go of my inhibitions in order to get some good shots. Thank you and yes, the shot is great!

  64. Dear Otto, I am very glad that your blog is featured and mentioned in the wordpress community, so that the eyes of the world can well appreciate your art.

  65. Am financially incapacitated,I cannot buy my self a Camera of any model or kind.Is there in the world who can donate to me or buy me a camera? I simply want it.To confirm this read my Post-it is my dream,you will see what am talking about.

  66. I love how you talk about “introvert days”–sometimes we as explorers and journalists push ourselves too hard to get the shot/story that we become frazzled and don’t take care of ourselves. Thanks for your wisdom!

  67. Beautiful. Their eyes say so much..the story they would share if given the opportunity. The young girl looks wise and strong beyond her years. Powerful! The camera really does open you to the persons world.

  68. Hello Otto,
    I love this part of your post: – ” Why would anyone let a complete stranger take a photograph of them? I simply didn’t have the courage to get into their faces. But slowly and over time, my lenses became shorter and my courage increased in reverse proportion.”

    Simply put and wonderful if one thinks about it. Thank you for the wonderful post and for responding patiently to so many comments, queries and questions.

    Best regards,
    Salil, IN

  69. i am still struggling to settle into a comfortable stance with regards to photographing people on the streets so with experience i hope to manage it well. love the photo posted! 🙂

  70. Great post. Thank you for sharing. I’m not a photographer, and dont own a camera, unless we consider the one in my blackberry. I get lucky at times when I gt a geat shot. I, too, am a nature junkie; I love spending time out doors and taking pictures of nature, from the vast sky to the tiniest bug. I am interested in taking street shots, but I dont know how to start. especially when i dont have my own camera. I dont know much about photography either, I just picked up interest about a year ago. What would be great websites to start off with? (you know, for the purpose of gaining more knowledge and tips, sort of like amateur training guide?)
    Again, loved the post, amazing shot… 🙂

    1. I don’t really know any websites to start off from. The best advice is simply to go out on the street and start shooting. A Blackberry is almost perfect for the purpose, because nobody will hardly take notice of being photograph. At least it’s a place to start.

  71. wow! agreed on one thing for sure…..it does indeed take a lot of spunk to get out on the street and shoot people close-up! i say that, as in my present city, london, uk, and especially nowadays, when people have just become so sensitive to strangers coming up to them to take photos, it is very very difficult to do. in my case, i tend to get my street shots in what i call walk-bys; i walk past people, pointing my camera roughly towards them and quickly pressing the shutter! if i get the shot, its just good luck, if not, well, hard luck!

    1. People are maybe somewhat more reluctant to let their photos be taken. But still I find it almost surprising how most people are willing if you approach them with respect and open about your purposes.

      1. true! but i just go the other way…i try and blend in as much as possible and shoot that way.
        in my opinion, soon as someone knows youre gonna take a shot, then their whole persona changes…thats not for me…i want to catch people at their most natural.
        and as i mentioned, since that 9/11 business and our own problems in the centre of London sometime later, people are just more reluctant.

  72. I enjoy seeing your photographs and reading of your many helpful tips. So far, I have focused on nature shots since that’s what I have been enjoying most. I still have much to learn and much more practicing to do.

  73. I can relate, I tried street photography in Cusco Peru and in and around the Sacred Valley, I did have an 18-200 mm but stayed within the 18 -50 range. Your post gives me that extra encouragement to try that out again….

  74. I love the way you explain things in the post. Now that’s a real learning experience. Great post and congratulations for being on Freshly Pressed!

  75. thru the camera we really can see the world. who can deny this when by the aide of the camera lenses i have seen lands that i have never and maybe will never set my foot on? imagine the world if there were never cameras

  76. A camera is indeed a wonderful tool that can connect so many different worlds in so many different ways. And the shot up there does express a lot. Please keep up the good work!

  77. Very good insights into street/environmental portraiture. I still use my 70-300 a lot (on a D700), but the 28-75 gets out of the bag a lot more these days, as in shorter lenses.

  78. True! The results would be totally different once we change our outlook and approach. I remember our ‘family’ photographer – Toms. Before the shooting session he establishes a rapport with his subjects. We used to feel very comfortable with him. No wonder his clients are happy with his clicks in which they look so relaxed and thereby beautiful.
    Ooops! I feel like writing a blog about him. 😛

  79. I want to thank everybody who has commented and made this post so alive. I will get back to you all and have a look at your blogs.

  80. Love the title of this one because it is so true. I enjoy photography blogs very much. There’s one, Cat In Water – http://catinwater.com, that has the most amazing photos sometimes. There was one expose of really old photographs over the last century.

    I know you need to ask people’s permission more these days, whereas you used to just film or photograph out in the street, but I’m so glad for photographers like you who bring those shots to us.

  81. I luv it! A camera is the window to the soul. A camera let’s you express how you feel inside. It let’s you see the world with a whole pair new of eyes.

  82. Hey Otto. I concur and had the same experience with my camera. It’s brought me into the lives of people in a way that no other thing could. It’s made people curious and interested. It’s changed the direction of my life and allowed me to give back to the people. Since I only take portraits, I do so with the intention to return a big print of the photo to the person. It’s been a powerful experience and a wonderful way to share culture and moments with people around the world. JT

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