I always thought myself a brave person. I left my hometown in communist Poland at 19 to live in Paris, which at the time might as well be the moon, so foreign was the western lifestyle at the time. I studied law in a language not my own. I persevered while also working full time to support myself graduating top 5% of my class. I did it all over again twice more, two more countries, law degrees, two more languages. All along with voices trailing behind me from everybody I knew: “Don’t bother trying, you can’t do it”. Today, I travel alone to places most people wouldn’t bother venturing to, I jump out of planes for fun, I go under water to play with whales. People who once said “you can’t” now call me “fearless.”
And yet, this week has shown me that there is a whole other kind of courage which I lack completely, that of a human connection. This time the voice saying “you can’t” is entirely internal. And a persistent little bugger too.
My self-assigned stretch this week was practicing flirty 3 second eye contact with attractive men I encounter on my daily comings and goings. It’s because I noticed that I usually avoid eye contact completely in social situations, which men perceive not as shyness but plain lack of interest from my part. I read somewhere that it takes 3 seconds to create initial connection and 4 minutes of uninterrupted gaze to fall in love. 3 seconds seemed like an optimal time to look at someone without staring. But in practice, 3 seconds are eternity. So far, I made it to “One Missis…” which is probably less than half a second. Long way to go!
The only exception is looking at people thought my camera. Somehow, though that little window of a viewfinder, I see people better, clearer, deeper. I get bold, encouraging people I photograph to connect with the camera, to be themselves. When they finally trust me and relax into the shoot, I feel great joy of connection.
Here are some samples from recent photoshoots with V and M. More photos to come…