Artscape and the Fear of Rejection

Artscape is the largest free arts festival in the United States and is held annually right in my own backyard. A six-dollar Uber ride from my home in South Baltimore brings me just outside of the entrance to this wonderfully eclectic festival that brings out some of Baltimore’s most creative people. It takes me to a part of town that I may sometimes feel uncomfortable visiting, which is unfortunate considering that it has some of the best Korean food I have ever tasted. The festival features hundreds of artists, live concerts, street theater, children’s activities, and best of all it is completely free.  This year the theme was “Camp Artscape: Adventure Awaits.” There were volunteers wearing shirts adorned with the word Counselor to really push home the point.  It had been a while since I pull out my camera and I was excited to capture the essence of the day.

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There was one problem that I didn’t realize I had at first. I saw three people who I can remember vividly that I wish I had captured. The first was a spectator at one of the free concerts. She was wearing bright green, shiny, leggings with a print that made them look like a mermaid’s tail. Her half shirt was purple and sequined. Her long red hair cascaded down her back and her face was shaded by a pretty paper yellow umbrella. The second was a man with a long tail clipped to his loose, stripped, pirate pants. He was wearing a leather vest, his hair was in dreads and his yarn hat was slightly askew on his head. The third was a man with a chest tattoo with exposed underwear, spinning a basketball on his ring finger. These people were all different but had one thing in common for me. I was scared to approach all of them and ask for a photo. The concept of this seems ridiculous to me in retrospect, especially because they were all clearly trying to make a statement. Maybe they even woke up that morning hoping that someone, anyone really would notice them. I contended myself to admire their uniqueness from afar. The problem was that seconds after I convinced myself not to approach the third man another photographer asked for a shot and even posed the man. I missed my chance and felt silly approaching him after because I didn’t want to be a copycat.


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I am not by nature a shy person but for someone reason I fear approaching people with a camera in my hand. I think it is possible that I am afraid of rejection. A while back, someone I don’t know was at a friend’s barbeque. She and her husband spent most of the party tending to their four week old baby. She was precious and I noticed that she and her mother were dressed alike. I asked the mother about their outfits and was informed that she was hoping her husband, who is another amateur photographer would take a photo. I was immediately excited because I’m interested in newborn photography and informed her that I was providing free photo shoots at the moment to practice. They lived further south then I would like to drive and her husband is probably equally if not more talented than me. The problem there was I didn’t know that. I had never seen his work. I told myself that I wasn’t worthy and thusly lost myself a potential client.

Just a few days ago I set my rate for a possible paying photo shoot. The lovely athlete pictured performing Lyra stunts recommend me to a friend at work. I was so excited by her interest that I started crying, because for the first time I felt worthy of calling myself a true photography. Unfortunately, it’s been a week and I haven’t heard from here yet so maybe I set my rate to high, she wasn’t that into my style, or she was just too busy. However, these events didn’t stop me from doing my last photo shoot, which I will post about soon. It won’t stop me from doing my next either I have the quote from Eleanor Roosevelt “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent” tattooed in a mirror on my shoulder and still sometimes fail to remember it.  I think we all have self-doubt, but the question we need to ask ourselves daily is will we let it define us? For me, at least for now, the answer is no. I still managed to get some pretty good shots at Artscape and am looking forward to comparing them to the one’s I capture next year.

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One thought on “Artscape and the Fear of Rejection

  1. Thanks for expressing your self-doubt about photographing folks. It’s a tricky thing, but I think most folks don’t mind. I now offer to send them a photo via email – if they are interested, I ask them to type their email into a memo on my cell phone. I just recently sent some images to a young couple that I met who were from Switzerland.
    You have a nice selection on this post – the closeups of guitarists, the guy doing the yoyo tricks and the ‘Great Scott’ photos are my favourite.


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