Along with the nighttime photos in Downtown Brooklyn, I’m also starting to make portraits during the daytime to illustrate the nature of the place. The goal of this project is twofold; to capture a feeling about a place and to get over a fear of approaching strangers. This fear has been with me for a long time but I can credit my experiences in college and shooting for newspapers with getting me over the initial fear by instilling in me a sense of purpose outside of myself. As a freelance photographer I don’t have those institutional expectations pushing me and have struggled to overcome my own internal resistance. Then last month I read an article in Bloomberg Businessweek about a man in Austin, TX named Jin Jiang who decided to face his fear with rejection therapy. The goal is that every day for 100 days he will approach a stranger and ask for something ridiculous with the expectation that they will say no. It was heartening watching his videos seeing how even in spite of the absurdity of his task he pushed forward and gained confidence in his delivery. Surely if he can believe in his task I can believe in my goal of approaching strangers and asking to make a portrait. And maybe I can shake some of that lingering resistance and fear of rejection while I’m at it.
I should be doing this.