I’m not exactly the most social or outgoing person I know (though I am, by far, the most awesome), which can result in lost opportunities that otherwise could have led to some interesting shots.
We took a little family trip the other week to our proud (not really) capital, Stockholm. Since we don’t have a car, nor a driving license, we traveled by train. We had to switch trains a couple of times and on one stretch we ended up in a completely empty compartment, 50-60 seats all for us, very nice and very quiet – the little one was sleeping at this point as well, which probably contributed in large part the unusual silence. My brain of course went immediately into photographer mode when met with such an unusual opportunity.
The photo itself isn’t all that noteworthy. There’s a LP160 with a small softbox clamped to the baggage rack to camera left (love that Lumopro clamp) and that’s about it. I would have liked a shallower DOF but there was a lot of sun coming in from the windows. Alternatively I could have forgotten about DOF and gone wide angle instead, distorting the perspective to give the scene more depth. However, this post isn’t so much about the technical details or the execution, instead it’s about one of my biggest shortcomings as a photographer.
This was a rather rushed shoot. The reason for that was my desire to get a few frames off and then put my gear away before the conductor came around again. In hindsight I realize that I missed a really golden opportunity here. I hardly think the conductor would have had much to say about us taking some pictures in the train, even though it would probably have been the first time he’d seen a flash clamped to the baggage rack – normal people keep the flash on the camera…silly people. The problem is that I don’t like drawing attention to myself, I don’t like being noticed. This is definitely something I have to work on if I want to take my photography to the next level. What interests me the most is shooting portraits, and that kind of implies that I have to work with people.
So, what I should have done, instead of worrying about the conductor spotting us, was to take a few shots of my wife and then actually wait for him to come around. My wife is lovely but here’s the thing: a great photograph should tell a story. What better way to tell a story than to shoot a conductor in an empty train? You would get context, an interesting subject and an interesting location, all in one. I could kick myself; this is exactly the kind of stuff I want to shoot, real people in interesting locations, and I just let the opportunity go completely by without even realizing it until later. Live, learn and try to improve.
What about you guys? Are you all social wizards who can engage anyone in interesting conversation at any time or place? Or do you share this weakness? Or perhaps your personal weakness is something completely different? Share your thoughts in the comments.