This special feature post was written by Berlin street photographer Oliver Krumes. Check out his work here.
Negative core beliefs hold us back from many things in life – such as finally quitting an unsatisfactory job to pursue working, for example, as a photographer or leaving an unhealthy relationship to seek the love of your life. I have come to realize that negative core beliefs have even affected my biggest passion: photography.
What are core beliefs, actually? They originate in childhood and youth and are shaped by our parents, friends and classmates. Two core beliefs that arose in my youth are, “Better to play it safe” — a belief that I took from my risk-averse dad — and “you have no charisma and no positive affect” — this phrase came about during my adolescence when some considered me a pimply, unathletic nerd.
How did these core beliefs affect my photography?
You guessed it; I refrained from photographing people in my photography for years, even though people seemed most interesting to me. I photographed run-down houses, empty streets and people, if at all, from behind, when I was sure they did not notice me.
I still liked my photos at that time, although I knew that more was possible, but my thoughts were holding me back. “Dont get close to them, they might not want to be photographed,” “You might get sued because you violated their rights of personality” or simply “Don’t get yourself in trouble.”
It was not me, it was my inner child who was afraid
One day I discovered the “Inner Child Theory,” which recognizes the core beliefs in our lives. This theory suggests that in moments when we act on our core beliefs, actually our inner child is in control. I learned from a coach in Berlin how I, as an adult, could regain control at such moments. It may sound a bit crazy, but I started talking to my inner child, taking him by the hand to help take away his fear. I did so in any situation where I was afraid without good reason, not just in street photography.
The more often I could soothe my inner child on the street and asked to photograph people or simply took candid photos of them, the safer I felt. All the worries my inner child had were unfounded — in 99% of cases, people on the street are happy to be approached and photographed!
Eventually, I became more confident and better in my photography. My development inspired me to co-found the collective Berlin1020 together with other fantastic street photographers from Berlin and have been giving workshops regularly in Berlin. My inner child is still with me, but only intervenes very rarely.
How can you get rid of you old core beliefs in Street Photography?
Next time you’re scared of photographing a person on the street, either do it like Eric (whose workshop has also helped me a lot in strengthening my self-confidence in photography) and say, “That’s a sign that I have to take the picture”- or talk to your inner child.
If the passer-by you want to take pictures of is not obviously dangerous but still you don’t dare to shoot a photograph, then it might be your inner child feeling anxious, not you. Talk to your inner child, ensure him or her that it is safe and they do not need to fear rejection or anything bad.
Start to take fearless pictures by recognizing strangers on the streets as interesting and likable characters who might even feel flattered when photographed. Do not let your fearful inner child allow you to miss the best photo opportunities – you too can do grandiose street portraits or candid photos up close.
Good luck on your way to becoming a truly fearless street photographer!