Too close. A little too close.
Grad school is slowly turning my brain into mush and re-organizing the compartments where the goo gets stored for easier access to the newly important information.
Or so it feels.
For my latest Fundamentals of Photojournalism project, I’ve been feeling a bit apprehensive about shooting. Not necessarily the act of taking photos, but in finding a good place to achieve the goal of the project.
See, I live near downtown, and everyone photographs downtown. I see these hippie-looking, homeless-looking denizens hanging around outside one of the coffee shops, and I think, “I really want to photograph them. I want to know why they are hanging around all the time. I want to know the toothless guy’s story. And the pregnant girl’s story. Why are they here.”
But, as shown in our first class critique, they get photographed and interviewed all the time. I don’t want to be typical. I don’t want to be where everyone else has been. (Even if their efforts have not produced the stories I want to hear.)
The rest of downtown has this same feel. There’s so many interesting spots and people, and I feel as though I’d be selling out if I completed an assignment there. But then again, if everyone has this feeling, then no stories will come from downtown. And that would be a shame.
So, today’s assignment took me all through downtown for a second time. I thought maybe if I took my bike down, I’d stumble across something interesting, maybe something no one else thought to cover before. Nope. Just apprehension about even walking into a situation to ask that tortuous question, “Can I take your picture?”
And then I remembered the animal rescue just a few blocks from my house.
Bingo! Something clicked as I walked up and I felt like myself again, able to put myself into the situation I needed for my project. The many volunteers were quite welcoming and let me hang around for about an hour or so. I got fantastic information, took a bunch of photos (some perfect for my project), and even heard some interesting ideas to possibly pursue for my final project.
Moments like these are rare. I need to remember that not every assignment will be easy to find, and not to give up until I get what I need. For every time I worry that maybe this project will fail, I need to get out and try again.
Because I can do this.