I didn't suddenly become an extrovert overnight. I hadn't suddenly overcome my shyness. But once I started, I was determined to get all 100 strangers. I had to see this project through to the end. I couldn't have a repeat of Thailand, which is why it was so frustrating when there were missteps, setbacks. And there were many setbacks. There were times when I went out and didn't take a single photo. I'd see a potential subject walking by and I'd hesitate. I'd take too long to decide whether or not to approach, and by the time I decided, they were gone. Or I might decide not to approach because I was convinced, for whatever reason, that they would say no. And I obsessed about every photo and every person I photographed. Did I choose a good subject? Did I get a good shot? Did I get critical focus? Did I get a natural expression from my subject? Was I making any real progress dealing with my shyness?
Was I awkward?
I spent a lot of energy worrying about that.
Being this kind of photographer, talking to strangers, trying to gain their trust, trying to form a connection, however brief, and trying to make a photograph to preserve that; it was exhausting to an introvert. A little more than half-way through the project, I started to waiver. It was hard to find the energy to keep going and I was easily discouraged when the pictures were not as good as I thought they could be.
I caught myself hoping for bad weather on the weekends so I could have a day off. I'd wake up in the morning, go straight to my window, and look for clouds. Worse still, I caught myself hoping for rejection, failure. That was surprising, to say the very least, because I really did want to finish this project. But if I was rejected, if I failed, then I'd have my answer, and the next step would be clear. I'd know I wasn't cut out to be a portrait photographer, and I'd be off the hook. It would hurt, but I could stop trying. I could rest. I could stop obsessing. I realize, of course, how backwards that all sounds. I don't expect a lot of people to understand.