I spent a few days in Vancouver last month for work. I had a chance to take some pictures, including a few at the beautiful Capilano Salmon Hatchery. Afterward, I took the train down to Seattle.
The train ride was beautiful, but also foggy. Because my view was limited, I decided to pull out my laptop and post-process some photos. I had some work photos that I wanted to turn around quickly, and when I got through them, I started going through some of my travel photos.
I was totally oblivious to the people around me, including an older woman sitting next to me. When I got to the above picture, she decided to interrupt me.
“Are you a photographer?” she asked.
“No, I just like taking pictures,” I responded.
“I really like that one,” she said.
“Thank you! What do you like about it?” I asked.
She started walking me through the composition and the different shades of green. She had a sophisticated eye, and I started asking her about her own photography background. Her name was Ingrid, and when she was in her 20s, she moved to Alaska and worked as an assistant to wildlife photographer, Sam Kimura. She was sort of this hippie grandmother who had lived all along the West Coast and who had done all of these fascinating things in her life.
One of the unexpected pleasures of photography as a hobby is how it’s opened up people’s lives to me. I’m not an outgoing person, but photography gives me an excuse to talk to strangers. Several months ago, I was in a coffee shop in Japantown, and I noticed this person sitting next to me drawing cartoons. I watched him out of the corner of my eye for a while, then finally asked if I could take a picture of his journal.
He was very friendly and said it was okay. His name was Evan, and this was the way he journaled about his life. We chatted for about 15 minutes, and he showed me lots of drawings, explaining the different life events they represented. If it hadn’t been for my camera, I never would have struck up a conversation with him.
Having a camera is also an excuse not to talk to others. I’ve been in social situations where, for whatever reason, I haven’t felt like talking to anybody. I simply start taking pictures, sometimes without even excusing myself. No one seems to mind, and I end up having a good time.
My friend, Eugene, describes this kind of behavior as extroverted introversion, which describes my personality quite nicely. They like people. They even like talking to people, even strangers, but in doses, not buckets. Photography is the perfect hobby for extroverted introverts.