Twelve months ago, I convinced myself (with a little help from a friend) to push my fears of approaching people aside and start taking more portraits. I'm so glad I did! I reached out to my first potential subject on January 1 of this year, and today, I've met over 40 new people, reconnected with many old friends, held almost 50 portrait sessions, and have, in general had a blast. I think back to what I missed out on by doing this - watching too much TV, wasting time surfing the internet, sleeping...well you get the picture - there are no regrets.
In addition to my Hands On and Introductions projects, I took two 8-week portraiture classes, where I worked on posing and lighting techniques. In July, I joined a 52 week project with 100 other people from around the globe - a very supportive group of talented photographers who are always willing to share what they know and learn from one another. I attempted the 52 Week project in 2013, but gave up after ten weeks or so, because I was terrified to ask people to be subjects for my photos. I kick myself when I think about how much further ahead my photography would be if I had just told myself to "get over it" then. Live and learn.
This "no fear" attitude has spilled into different areas of my life leading to a few "firsts." In February, I went paragliding while in South Africa (thanks for booking it Henri and Cass!), which after being reassured by my guide that he had hundreds of jumps under his belt, was an amazing experience. In March, I quit my full-time job and started working as an independent consultant; nine months later I'm still working for my first client. In May, I went to take some pictures of a women's motorcycling group, and ended up on the back of a motorcycle for a 90 minute ride, being driven by a woman I had just met...thanks for the great time NJ Renegades, and especially Paige, my driver! There have been a few other adventures, all attributable to just putting myself out there.
There have been some lessons learned - my Introductions project didn't really work out as I envisioned. Regardless, I've had some great introductions for new Hands On subjects from those I've photographed, so I plan on continuing that project for a while. The Hands On project has taught me how to deal with working in some very tight spaces, being observant of distracting backgrounds, and has forced me to learn some new Photoshop techniques. I've learned a lot about lighting (and troubleshooting lighting equipment). I've also recently started taking more pictures of food and products. There have been some challenges there, but I plan to continue working on that in 2016.
While I let my shyness to ask people to take their pictures seep in a few times during the year, I've gotten over that issue for the most part. In general, I believe that I've improved my photography over the course of 2015. I've also had a few people tell me they are enjoying my writing as much as my pictures...who would've thought that would happen?
In summary, I'm grateful to all the people who were patient with me as I worked on their portraits - "just one more shot" are my famous last words - and for all the opportunities I had in 2015. I'm really looking forward to 2016. While I have a number of ideas for new projects, my focus will be on completing the 52 week project, continuing to photograph talented artisans for Hands On, and building a portfolio and a marketing plan to get my work in front of local businesses, regional magazines, and graphic designers / ad agencies.
There are some Hands On subjects that I'd like to capture that I've not been able to find in 2015. If you know anyone who does this type of work and might be interested in participating, please let me know. The list includes: custom surfboard and skateboard makers, graffiti artist, candle maker, jewelry maker, costume designer, calligrapher, and a candy maker. I'm also open for other suggestions, so don't be shy, just drop me a note at email@example.com.
I hope you continue to follow my journey and are finding it as enjoyable as I am. Happy New Year and best wishes for a happy and healthy 2016!