Until I participated in the photography workshops in France led by Valérie Jardin, I had never intentionally made images of strangers. Valérie encouraged us to experiment, challenging us to make portraits, find a place with an interesting background then make images of people moving through it, and remain aware of our surroundings to capture unique moments.
It was quite demanding for me. In my efforts to remain unobtrusive, I was often reluctant to raise my camera soon enough to capture the scene. I also found that I was just snapping images of people without much thought behind the image I had just made. I hadn't fully considered what it was I believed was interesting or provocative, so I ended up with a bunch of really boring images that made me ask myself what I was thinking when I made them. Like much of learning, it was a bit unsettling, but ultimately a good experience. Pictures tell stories, especially those of people. My early attempts were snapshots, quickly made images without much thought about whether or not there was potential to create a story. I needed to decide if I would continue my endeavor to learn more about street photography, or just chalk it up as something in which I wasn't really interested. I concluded I liked the challenge, so struggled on to determine if I was actually able to make images that were more than snapshots.
Many of the images I made were photographed candidly, without the subject having knowledge an image was being made. In some cases, subjects happened to look directly at my camera as I was pressing the shutter. The subject obviously knew an image was being made, but in no case gave any indication of displeasure or being upset by it. Having experiences like that helped my confidence, causing me to be less concerned about being unobtrusive - something that's pretty difficult with a digital SLR camera in front of my face!
As I made more images, I became more and more conscious of imagining stories related to the images. Undoubtedly, my stories were very different than the actual story behind the image. But the process of creating a story for what I saw in the frame kept me challenged, engaged, and looking forward to making more images.