I’ve realized that being a photographer is very similar to being a small child.
A few months ago I was working in Baltimore when I decide to jump on a train to go visit some friends in New York. I have been friends with Brooke and John for many years, but haven’t had many chances to visit them since they moved to New York to start a family. John is a successful dentist and Brooke is an amazing writer who has published two books and authors an insightful blog about being a mother to her son, Harper.
Harper is this amazing bundle of joy that embodies the best characteristics of his parents. Just shy of two years old, he runs the house; physically and figuratively.
His bare little feet try to keep up with his own forward movement. He moves effortlessly, zipping around from one part of the house to another like the Roadrunner eluding his parental foe. Each stop he makes in the house he’s grabbing at household items. I watch him as he looks at the TV remote figuring out the cause and effect of pressing the buttons. He drops the remote to examine my backpack zippers and then focuses on my shoestrings. Shortly after the shoestrings he finds a toy in the hall and tries to figure out where the noise comes from. I watch with a smile as Harper examines these objects, trying to figure how they work, what they do, and why they are a part of his world.
As he moves through the house he is in no way that Godzilla-like terror-child you hate to see in the grocery store; Harper is curious and inquisitive. It’s refreshing to watch as he moves around learning about the world around him. Everything he sees and touches is new and interesting. Even if he has seen the same object before, he sees it now in a more complex and different way because of the things he has learned days, hours, and even minutes ago.
As a child, every day holds something incredible new. For most of us, new experiences and opportunities to learn unknowns comparatively drop as we age, and our lives become more and more of a routine. To experience, learn, and feel something new as an adult, typically takes a conscious effort. For Harper, these opportunities are naturally all around him.
I’m very thankful for the type of job I have. On most days, when I go to work, I feel like Harper. Most of my shoots bring me into an unknown world where I get to learn and explore. A chef in his kitchen, a fighter pilot with his plane, a guitar maker in his shop, a woman at the local dry cleaners are a sample of the new and interesting worlds I have encountered.
However, most of the people and places that I have observed, interacted, and have connected with through my photography have all been approachable. Not just by me, the photographer, but me as a person.
With a little bit of effort and some curiosity, completely new worlds are everywhere for anyone to experience. It starts with taking the first step, seeking something new that’s beyond the daily routine, and summoning our inner child to explore the world around us.
What has interested you, but you have never explored? Does your neighbor have an interesting job, hobby, or culture he could show you that you might like to see?