I was browsing Facebook and came across an article about this lady called Michelle Poler, who like many of us, was fearful of a lot of things. In short, she conquered her fears by facing them, one fear a day, for 100 days consecutively. Salute to her!
She has a website/blog, as well as a YouTube channel. Her last challenge was to do a public speaking and she managed to speak at TED! I guess we can all gain inspiration and motivation to conquer our fears from watching her videos.
Fear in Photography?
I have a lot of fears in life too. In photography, I fear being scolded when I point my camera at strangers. I have been scolded before ahha. Been rejected, too.
There was once I was walking around Causeway Bay in Hong Kong, having a camera hung around my neck, doing window shopping, never intended to take photo. One crazy old man scolded me. Like wth? His negative gesture discouraged me from doing ‘documentary/street’ photography that afternoon. Anyway, what a narcissist man who thinks everyone wants to take his photo. HAHA
Leave your comfort zone
‘What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’
This quote/lyric is ever so right. If we let our fears engulf us, we will never have a breakthrough. Recently, I found a fortune cookie from my office’s pantry and the quote I got was ‘Life begins at the end of your comfort zone’.
A few days later I bumped into my ex-lecturer and we had a chat about my career progression. She said I need to come out from my comfort zone in order to be something.
If you want to be a photographer that take astounding photos, be it landscape, documentary, nature, etc, you also need to come out of your comfort zone. You need to wake up early to hunt for the sunrise, go to secluded inaccessible places to hunt for photos, get near and get low to get a good shot of bumblebee harvesting. Or you need to get close to your subject to bring out an emotion to the viewer.
Like National Geographic photographers, one shot might take months to get because they need to wait for the animals to enter their frame, like everything has to be on-point: the weather, subject, composition, equipment, etc. They come out of their comfort zone (warm room, good food, safety) just to get one image.
You can argue it’s their job. Yes, it’s their job but if I am not up to it, I can quit. I am not saying we should all be fearless like Nat Geo. What we can do is to start little by little. For me, my fear in photography right now is the fear of being shouted at in the street and the weird looks given by bystanders.
Face the fear
Just like Michelle Poler, we have to be brave to face our fear to not feel fearful anymore. Just like death, it’s unavoidable. That’s everyone’s destination. So, in order to face it, Buddhist monks contemplate about death. They train their mind and meditate day in day out to conquer fears.
In terms of photography, do you have any fear? I fear being judged by people about my photos. So, I don’t actively promote myself. That’s ok. But what if I dream to become a photographer? Who would know me if I never market myself? So, I do that slowly by telling one friend to another that ‘hey, I am using film’, and start to raise their awareness that film is still in use and is reviving.
I also fearful while doing street/documentary photography. This hinders my progress to take photos that stir emotion or photos that document local way of life. So, step by step, I use 50mm lens so I don’t need to get super near. I go up to a subject and just click. And tell myself it’s ok to take pictures of strangers no matter how people may think weirdly of me. Sooner or later, the mind will be adjusted to this ‘danger’ and accustomed to it. This is called ‘adapt’.
Since I blog it, I walk the talk. Last few weeks, I brought my camera out intending to face my fear. At first I was so scared! Then I remembered how many times I had gone home ’empty-handed’ because I didn’t dare to click. So I forced myself to click the first shot. Taa-daa…
Once I got my engine slightly started, it has all become easier. Then the second and third. And I realised nobody actually gave a damn about me. Of course people around looked, but nobody voiced out their disapproval or chased me away.
Stey by step
What I did last few weeks was a baby step. I forced myself to face the fear again to get back my lost momentum.
I’m still fearful and shy but I believe by doing this long enough, my body will be accustomed to it and there will be fear no more!