As Seen in Callahan’s General Store

This past weekend, I was down in Texas. The following is a photo I took while in Austin, at Callahan’s General Store.

When I took this photo, I wanted to do it as quickly and as discretely as I could. This was because I was afraid of being seen taking pictures in the general store, where real Texans really go to buy their boots, their hats, and their feed.

Thinking more about this fear of being seen, I realized that I still need build my confidence when it comes to taking photos, and I’m just not sure how to get more comfortable doing it.

In some cases, having the fancy camera gives me more confidence to take pictures. For example, in a tourist setting, an impressive camera can help me fake that I know what I’m doing, and I like to imagine the other tourists are looking at me with envy, thinking I’m a serious photographer. This allows me to feel more comfortable getting up close, or taking my time getting that just-right photo. On the other hand, sometimes I’m afraid to call attention to myself and my photo taking, and I want to just snap the picture quickly from afar. Especially everyday scenes, where I am afraid to feel like an intruder.

How do I become a more confident photographer? How do I balance getting photos that are closer to the subject and more intimate with not overstepping boundaries of being an “outsider” or being that obnoxious photographer? Is this something other photographers grapple with?

I wonder.


6 thoughts on “As Seen in Callahan’s General Store

  1. I struggle with this a lot, actually. One of the big reasons there are so few people in anything I shoot is that I’m uncomfortable shooting people (even when they’re out in public, where it is completely legal to do so) without their permission. The same goes for stores and shops — a lot of proprietors dislike photographers taking pictures of their wares, even if it’s in a public place like a farmer’s market.

    Many times, you can simply ask, and people will have no problems at all. Or sometimes (if you’re taking pictures of items in a shop) the shopkeeper will ask for a small donation. I usually don’t bother, because I’m too introverted, and the perfect picture is less important than me staying within my comfort zone 😛

    As an aside, if you plan to sell your photos or submit them to contests or anything of that nature, and there are recognizable people (i.e., you can see their face) in the shot, you /must/ obtain a model release form from them. Most contests won’t accept shots of people without one, and if you’re selling photos of people without one you are liable for a lawsuit.

    • I think maybe that’s why I prefer the pretty landscape pictures and the pictures of inanimate objects in nature or in my own home, as opposed to people and things that belong to people. There’s no pressure to decide between asking for permission, doing it on the sly, or just giving up on the photo op all together.

      But, you also make a good point about selling/submitting photos for contests. I’d like to think that maybe some day I’ll be good enough for that, so I guess I’ll have to think about getting over the fear of asking for permission.

  2. I just got a new fancy camera myself and I am not feeling brave enough to randomly whip it out in public either.

    I took it with me on a trip to NYC recently and finally decided to not worry too much about it. I just figured people would just think I was a tourist, cause well, that’s what I was!

    Once I finally relaxed and just did my thing I got some really good photos!

    That is a great picture you took up there, I LOVE the boots and now want to go buy a pair! I wish you a lot of luck on getting braver.

    Oh, and if you learn any tips on getting over your fears be sure to share 🙂

    • Thanks, Ginger! Congrats on the fancy new camera! If you’re anything like me, it’s super exciting, yet kind of overwhelming at the same time! I’m slowly trying to master mine and learn to be less intimidated by it.

      Good luck in your adventures with your new camera!

  3. I think you just need to go with it! Don’t worry about what other people think–worst case, what would happen? Would the store manager ask you to stop? Maybe. Not the worst thing in the world! 🙂

    By the way, your post reminds me of a shot (or three) that I took in Arizona of multiple pieces of pottery–they ended up being some of my favorites and I hope to frame them someday. You know, when I own a vacation home in Arizona. Ha!

    P.S.–Are you taking any classes in the city for photography? Any one-day classes or something like that on a weekend? I would totally do one with you if it wasn’t too expensive!!

    • I am thinking about taking a class at some point. I figure right now I am going to try to learn as much as I can on my own and get a little more confident with my camera. Then, when I feel like I’ve hit a wall and can’t learn much more without extra help, I’ll sign up for a class.

      I know there are tons of classes, some of which are one-day or weekend workshops, both in the city and in the ‘burbs. If I find one I like, I’ll definitely let you know.

      Also, did you see the post I wrote about the class by Amy Tripple? It’s out in the ‘burbs and geared toward parents who want to take good pictures of their kids. (I took it with my cousin, since we have the same camera…) It’s a little pricey, but Amy is really awesome and I’d totally recommend the class to parents. (She also has gift certificates, so maybe it’s something you could ask for for Christmas or a Birthday or something!)

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