Staring out in the distance, I’m always daydreaming. Seconds pass; I never realize why I catch myself doing these things. Always imagining myself as someone else, in someone else’s shoes. Wondering how a person’s life is so different from mine.
People and their lives fascinate me.
My upbringing was very different, which probably contributed to that. I was very reserved and felt comfortable being in the background just watching how people behave.
Shooting documentary widened that imagination. I learned to see things differently than just the person I was observing. Street photography was an expansion to that, but the path to it wasn’t easy.
Getting to know the areas I was venturing to and discovering areas was a major hurdle. Fear was always at the top of my mind. Meeting new people was next.
At first you kept yourself at a distance. Wishing and hoping you don’t get caught; shielding yourself from the outside world. Once I learned to appreciate the diversity of the city, my world opened up.
The city wasn’t just grey anymore. You learn how vivid and alive it is.
I got lost in the sea of humans of all different walks of life. Forgetting the rest came easy.
People come up to you and have a humble conversation about your camera or questions about what city you come from. They are intrigued; they have stories and conversations. It is a bonus to be asked to take a portrait of them.
Now, the city doesn’t seem so scary after all.
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As I traveled to different locations, I learned how differently people react when a camera is pointed at them. Some will openly accept it, while others try to dodge it believing they’re in your shot.
I created a game out of it.
Often, I’d find a person looking directly at my camera. These are some of my favorite images. Growing up, my fear of personal interaction made it my ultimate goal to photograph someone up close. Being at a distance isn’t part of who I want to be. I want to connect with those who are open to me.
People are an open book, so I build those stories about them. I try often to get out and find new things. Not every shot is the same. Each outing I’m learning something new.
Fear, now, is becoming an after thought. There’s so much to learn as I know I’m just a baby in this passion of mine.
If I had to give someone tips on what I’ve learned so far, it’s:
- Don’t let fear take over something you’re real passionate about. Get out and see what’s beyond your lens. People aren’t too scared to be noticed.
- Each time, set a goal on what you want to achieve. I learned that getting close isn’t so bad. Next I will want to incorporate some juxtaposition in my photographs and how to properly achieve it.
- Learn about the light, shadows and perspectives. Don’t rush into your shot for the sake of shooting something. Patience will help define what you are trying to achieve.
- Go beyond photographing people. Being on the outside isn’t only about people, it’s about the surroundings we are in.
Writing + photography contributed by Jessica Pajimula of Samarie-Lei Photography.
Jessica Pajimula is a graphic designer and photographer. Residing in Katy, TX outside of Houston, with husband Alan and daughter Lei-lei along with her fur family. She is owner of Samarie-Lei Photography capturing all aspects of documentary since 2014. Majority includes families, street photography and business stories.