Connecting with your subjects in photography can be one of the trickiest things to learn. Why it is tricky is that it requires a little bit of vulnerability on your side, behind the camera.
With my landscape and nature photography, I want people to experience what I saw. The raw beauty and majesty of what makes this planet so amazing. Whether it be the vibrant colors of light across the land or the amazing beauty in a flower. Either way, the subject of the photo must truly feel connected to me and hopefully to others.
When it comes to taking photos of people, the same should also hold true. Each time I ask someone to take their picture, I want to convey something about them and their character to the image. Yes, there are times when you are simply taking someone’s picture, but without a little bit of their being then the power of the image is weakened.
Finding Your Subject
On Diani Beach in Kenya, one can be totally overwhelmed by the beach boys trying to make a living from each and every tourist that passes their way. There is nothing malicious in their nature and I can understand their desire to sell you the next best memento.
We are fortunate enough to be able to travel the world and will spend more money than we should do so. Those making their living off our travels need our support and are working their way out of the situation they find themselves in. Personally, I prefer someone working to begging.
However, after two days of being “someone’s brother,” I was beginning to feel like I couldn’t have a real encounter with anyone. There was not a single person out there that actually wanted to talk to me about anything other than buying something from them. I had begun to simply warn anyone that walked up to me that if they didn’t have anything to say that didn’t involve me buying something that they should simply walk on by.The type of encounter where you find a connection with someone and are able to enjoy something more than transactional.
That type of reaction is borne from sheer frustration but I felt that I had been taken there. I was hoping that I would have at least one encounter where I could find a connection with someone and are able to enjoy something more than transactional.
Enter a Man and His Camels
Our fist encounter was him walking towards us with his camels and simply asking if we were Ethiopian. After which he simply started telling us his story of being from the border regions of Kenya and Ethiopia in and around Moyale. We talked a while and sure enough, he asked if we would take a ride on the camels. I politely refused, and instead of walking away looking for another person to sell to he started telling me more of his life story
We talked a while and sure enough, he asked if we would take a ride on the camels. I politely refused, and instead of walking away looking for another person to sell to he started telling me more of his life story.
Fifteen minutes later, I asked to take his picture. He was more than willing on one condition, I make sure to share the picture with others so that they would recognize him when they came to Diani. Sure that might sound transactional, but in reality, he was asking me to simply not be a taker and that I should give something back as well.