As a kid, remember the game of “jump rope?” Two friends would grab either end up a rope and twirl it around while a person steadily watched the rhythm of the rope, and when it felt right, jumped in.
I feel like taking pictures in another country is kind of the same thing.
Every time I go to a new country, I always hesitate pulling my camera out at first. I was never sure why, but it usually took half a day of exploring before I finally felt brave enough to start shooting. I finally figured out why I wait so long, and it goes back to jump rope.
In jump rope, for the person about to hop in the middle, before they dive in, they want to study the twirling rope, get a feel for the rhythm, and then give it a go. Once their in the middle they really can’t stop and turn back, and taking pictures in another country is the same thing.
I want to study the culture, get a feel for safety and the surroundings and then, when the timing feels right, pull out my camera. From that moment on I make a commitment: My camera bag doesn’t leave my sight and my memory cards are frequently changed and vehemently protected.
My time in India is a good example of this.
It took me a solid day to finally get comfortable enough to pull out my camera. Maybe part of it was not wanting to have a super-fancy camera amid all of the poverty. Perhaps it was having my super-fancy camera stolen amid all of the poverty. Maybe it was just that I’m a little girl and needed to man up. Either way, I’m really glad I started shooting (to my wife’s credit, she really was the one to tell me to “grow some balls”). By the end of the trip, I came home with 1,300 pictures from India. Many of them are full of color and life, but none would exist if I didn’t jump in and start shooting.