Princeton University Photowalk (open your mouth and make a friend)

5 Bracket HDR f/16 ISO 50 55mm

5 Bracket HDR f/16 ISO 50 55mm

 

I have learned a long time ago to talk to people. Just talk to someone whom you might night not normally talk to and it can open a door that will lead you to so many great things, such as friendship and good times in good places and of course good memories. I know this can be hard for many people, it was hard for me too, and that is until several years ago when I was exposed to large groups of people on a weekly basis. I have a catering business and we cook mostly on location so I would see no less than 50 people and of course you’re cooking this awesome food for them so many people will want to talk to you. I really think that this is what has made my catering business so successful over the last 18 years. Now I must tell you I never planned it this way, but if someone came to talk to me I certainly could not be rude so I would engage them in conversation. And of course there are those times that people want to talk and you are in a bad mood or something just isn’t going right and the last thing you want to do is talk to anyone. You know… these are the times when really all we want to do is talk to ourselves… out loud with profanity (lol). But even in these times I learned you must step back and think of the person engaging you. Ask them (not tell them) “is it ok if we talk later, now is not a good time for me” and most times (if not all) the person will understand.

I really feel passionate about talking with people because I never knew I had it in me and I never planned on getting good at it. And while it became a great tool for my catering business it is also just as great for my photography business. If you are going to photograph people you need to be able to communicate, but you also need to be able to just relate to people. New York based fashion photographer Lindsay Adler once said she likes to talk a lot with the model during technical problems on a shoot. Sounds crazy I know, but the logic is; that there is no “dead” air because silence in that situation lets people become unfocused and maybe even nervous. Like an announcer at a sporting event, maybe there is a delay of some sort, but the announcer will keep talking. Just imagine how awkward it would be if he didn’t talk during a delay? So yes Lindsay is right and I actually learned this a long time ago, long before I heard her say it.

We have all been in that awkward situation where we are left alone with someone and there is time to kill, but the only thing dying is us and it is because of silence. Because we’re both afraid to just talk and say something to the other person. Now maybe the other person just does not want to talk, this could very well be, but how would you know unless you take that little step. After all that little step could be one of the biggest steps in your life. Just stop and think about that for a moment… ok so maybe the person is unreceptive and that is ok. Or are they unreceptive because you’re not relating to them? Remember it is not just about talking, you must also relate to them on some kind of level or common ground. I think the biggest and most used icebreaker is the weather, however this is the one topic I steer clear of. I mean if I just walked into a room and I was soaking wet because I got caught in a rain shower… ok I might mention the weather at that point lol. But most times I don’t mention weather because it is too generic.

How do you get better at talking and relating to people? Just get out and be around people in a genuine way, but also in a way you have to interact and physically talk to them. So throw away social media on this one because it will not help you at all.

Quick story and it is directly related to the photo. So I go to a photography seminar in Philadelphia several months ago. The speaker is renowned photographer Joe McNally so I’m really excited. As we are entering into the room and looking for a seat, I see several empty seats and one that is taken. So to be nice and courteous I ask “is this seat taken” and the gentleman replies with a “no” so I sit. He looks like he is by himself and I reach out and introduce myself and shake the man’s hand. Now relating in this situation is very easy because I know he likes photography. So after we are settled and we still have time we begin to talk (now remember this could be that god awful silent time) and long story somewhat short is we find out we live very close to each other and we agree that we should go out and enjoy a day of photography together. Well not only have we done that but Mark has also helped me with a model shoot and just yesterday we went out for a fun day of just freestyle shooting. The location we chose was Princeton University and yes we had a great time. We started at daybreak and ended about 10:30am and then went and viewed a photography exhibit at a local hospital. And it all happened because… I opened the mouth god gave me and made a friend in doing so.

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