I felt uncomfortable. He commented on my photography and asked me how long I’d been taking pictures. He asked a few other questions that had me feeling like I should have a pedigree instead of just a keen interest in playing with my camera. I put my feelings aside; “Assume good intent,” I thought to myself. I’ve had conversations with this fellow before and it seems a part of his personality to come across as an expert at everything.
The following Sunday he showed me a book he thought I should look at. It was a collection by a photographer he admired and he thought it might help me think about my own “style.” Mmmm, sure. I took the book home and looked through it once or twice in the week. I enjoyed reading the introduction.
I decided to return the favor and share a book by a photographer I like. And then I took the additional risk of sharing my photo journal stuffed with snaps and scraps of photos I’ve taken over the past few years. Maybe they would show this gentleman “my style.”
Last night he returned my books and told me I was indeed on my way to developing a style and added his opinion that if an artist thinks their own work is great, that’s all that matters.
I guess we agree on that.
Another thing we probably agree on – but maybe I have more ease with practicing it: community and relationships begin by reaching out, asking questions and commenting on what one notices about the other. This gentleman and I have different “styles” but that doesn’t mean we can’t get to know each other better.