I talked to my buddy Grace, and she gave me an idea about talking about street photography and eye contact:
1. What is so scary with eye contact?
First of all, why is it so scary to make eye contact with others?
Eyes are the windows to the soul. When we make eye contact with someone, it can be perceived as a threat.
We can notice eye contact from half a block away. It is what kept us from dying in the past– we give someone a wrong look from a neighboring tribe in the past, that might have meant death.
2. Eyes are windows to the soul
When you look at someone and make eye contact– it is personal. It is uncomfortable. You can see the emotional state of someone through their eyes.
Not only that, but when you make eye contact, there is a level of intimacy. You can make eye contact with someone, and fall in love for the first time. On the other hand, it might make you feel uncomfortable– because you are not sure whether that person is sinister, or a potential new friend.
3. Overcoming the fear of eye contact
For me, learning how to shoot street photography is overcoming the fear of eye contact. I remember I used to do eye-staring contests with friends. Whoever looked away the first was the loser.
I remember my friend Robin– who was really good at making eye contact with strangers, and not looking away. I have a vivid memory of us at In and Out, eating a hamburger, and he stared at someone through the window. That person made eye contact, and then immediately turned away.
Know that eye contact isn’t death. Practice making eye contact with people you love, or strangers– longer than you are used to.
4. Success = ability to make eye contact
I think to build the confidence to have eye contact will help much in life:
- Successful business-people can make good eye contact.
- Successful relationships are based on good eye contact.
- Successful photographers know how to capture the eye well– to capture the soul of their subjects.
5. How not to be afraid of eye contact
Baby steps. Here are some suggestions:
a. Start off by being comfortable looking at yourself in the mirror:
Make eye contact with yourself. Are you comfortable at looking at yourself, into your own eye– and soul?
You can practice making self-portraits of yourself.
b. Start making eye contact with your loved ones:
Look into the eyes of your children, your partner, and your family members. Make eye contact with your friends. They will be comfortable with you.
c. Then start to make eye contact with strangers:
When they look back at you, give them a gentle smile — and say hello.
Don’t be afraid of eye contact. It is the first step to conquering your fears in street photography, building more intimacy in your photos, and becoming a more confident person.
The Eye and Photography
Learn more about the importance of the eye in photography:
Conquer your fears
How to conquer your fears:
- How to Conquer Your Fears in Life
- Photography Favors the Brave
- How to Have More Confidence in Yourself
- How to Have Courage to Shoot Street Photography
- How to Overcome Hesitation in Street Photography
- Shoot What You’re Afraid Of
- You Have Nothing to Fear But Fear Itself
- How to Channel Your Fear into Bravery in Street Photography
- Don’t Be Afraid
- How to Overcome Your Fear in Street Photography with “Rejection Exposure Therapy”
- How to Harness Your Fear to Become a More Confident Street Photographer
- How to Avoid Paralysis by Analysis in Street Photography
- How to Become a Fearless Street Photographer
- How to Become an Invisible Street Photographer
If you want assignments to conquer your fear of shooting street photography, read the free ebook: “31 Days to Overcome Your Fear in Street Photography”