Color Film · film photography · Leica Camera · life · lomography · Photo essay · photography

Shooting Outside My Comfort Zone

There is a Youtube channel I have been enjoying lately by Bryan Birks, and in his videos he talks a lot about a project he is working on of classic cars and their owners. I always find the videos very inspiring because one thing I have mostly shied away from is taking portraits or any photos of people.

While I am not really interested in taking photos of classic cars, I have made it a goal to try to notice them when we are out and about. Bryan has made a good point of showing that a car is a great talking point if you want to gain someones interest and trust before taking their photo.

You may remember a while back I wrote an article called Creativity and Managing Mental Health. In it I talk about a time I walked around a neighborhood and found a classic Mustang that I wanted to shoot. I was very scared that the owner would come out and yell at me for taking these photos.

Hasselblad 500 c/m with Kodak Portra 800

However, after I got the photo, I was so happy with the results and I wished I could’ve met the owner so that I could have learned the story behind the car. Since that experience, I have hoped to have a second chance. Recently, I did.

Shooting Outside my Comfort Zone

Kelsey and I were out and about running errands, and of course I had a camera with me. I am glad I did because we came upon a similar mustang in a parking lot.

It caught my eye as we pulled into our space, so I quickly grabbed my camera and got out of the car. The owner was in a rush so at first I hesitated to say anything, but when he saw I was wanting to photograph the car, he smiled big and said go for it.

I then said, can I get a photo with you next to it? He was surprised and said you want a photo of me? I said, “Sure, it’s your car isn’t it?” He seemed flattered and posed for me. Also, he loved that I was taking the photo on film. He had a smile from ear to ear even when he came back out of the store and saw me with my camera again.

Leica M6 with Lomography CN 800

While I know the photos aren’t the best because there is a busy highway behind the subjects, and cars on either side, I still love these photos. That is because of the story that I won’t soon forget, and the practice it gave me to hopefully start to take more photos of people. It pushed me into shooting out of my comfort zone.

Final Thoughts

I have always been very shy, and suffer with social anxiety, but I think the pandemic and the tense social climate in our country right now has heightened that for a lot of people. There is hope though. I think this example is proof of that. I went from being terrified to take a photo of a car in a driveway because I didn’t want to talk to a person, to asking someone to stop and pose for me.

How do you feel about asking strangers to pose for you? What is something out of your comfort zone? Let me know in the comments.

Until next time, stay motivated and keep shooting.

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13 thoughts on “Shooting Outside My Comfort Zone

  1. I can think of several times off the top of my head that I missed out on a photo because I was too scared to ask the person. It’s always frustrating, especially after hearing so many other people have such successful stories about it.

  2. When you think about it, there is a synergy of sorts between a vintage car and a vintage camera, and that’s probably not lost on people who enjoy antique cars. I hope this affords you new avenues for developing your art (puns intended). Beyond that, there are multiple reasons why it’s fun to take pictures of antique cars. I can’t illustrate them here, but I’ll email you directly with some examples in my own collection.

  3. Johnny Martyr – Johnny Martyr specializes in in Available Light B&W 35mm Photojournalism. His lifestyle & documentary portraits can be found in the pages of Huffington Post, Marie Claire, Modern Wedding, Petapixel, BuzzFeed & others. Johnny also enjoys drinking absinthe, working on antique electric fans & collecting Night of the Living Dead trading cards.
    Johnny Martyr says:

    Exactly! Oh and btw, these photos are totally solid. No need for the self-criticism. It’s hard to shoot with a manual film camera in a fast/anxious situation like this. 🙂

  4. Good for you!!! I am also shy about photographing strangers, I have no problem with people I know, just don’t know the way to approach someone!!!

  5. I love to take photos of classic cars. Normally I’m quite a chicken when it comes to encountering people when I’m making photos but I’ve found that classic car owners are unfailingly happy that you’re noticing their car and don’t mind you making photos — as long as you don’t touch the car!

  6. Johnny Martyr – Johnny Martyr specializes in in Available Light B&W 35mm Photojournalism. His lifestyle & documentary portraits can be found in the pages of Huffington Post, Marie Claire, Modern Wedding, Petapixel, BuzzFeed & others. Johnny also enjoys drinking absinthe, working on antique electric fans & collecting Night of the Living Dead trading cards.
    Johnny Martyr says:

    As a bit of a vintage car guy, yes, I can verify that most are flattered and happy to talk about their vehicle. That’s a great idea to find something that someone loves like a car, maybe a shirt they’re wearing or, hey, a classic camera they’re holding, to get both parties out of their shell and take a photo.

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