Published: November 28th 2011November 27th 2011
Stop hitting your brother! Don't run with scissors! Clean your room! Eat everything on your plate! Think of the starving children in China! Always listen to your mother! Don't talk to strangers!
Those commands we've heard repeatedly throughout childhood. I'm 33 now and I have mostly mastered those things. I stopped hitting my brother, running with scissors and I think incessantly of the poor children in China, India and Africa (and everywhere else in the world for that matter). Yes, mom, I have listened to you.
The one thing I can't seem to control: Talking to strangers. The people of the Latin American culture are so darn friendly that I find it impossible to not stop and mumble something in Spanish to every single one of them. For a woman of this disposition I was in a "stranger paradise" in Costa Rica.
My first victim was the strapping, lightly inebriated young man that caught my eye outside Manuel Antonio National Park. Jeremy and I were walking back to our car after an afternoon of swimming, poison dart frog and howler monkey hunting; so romantic, I know. I stood back and said, "Jeremy! Look at that guy! He looks
One of my favorite photos from the whole trip. This little girl spent hours playing in the sand while her dad was fishing.
so...cool." That's the best adjective I could come up with at the time. "I want to take his photo," I declared. "Then just do it," he encouraged and stood back...
The gentleman in question was standing on the side of the road, holding a beer, talking with his hippie posse. I approach him. "Hola! Could I photograph you sir for my blog about travel?" He laughs. "You look so....ethnic....and I'll publish your photo on travelblog.org and thousands of people will see it. You'll be famous!" Ok, I was exaggerating. A lot. He raises one eyebrow. "I'll only take a photo if you're in it with me," were his terms. Deal. The product of this somewhat awkward moment are the photos pictured here.
Then the flood gates of stranger picture taking were opened, and not closing any time soon. I'm on a roll now baby! We drove through Quepos, a quaint little town that consisted of a whole four city blocks. That afternoon, armed with my big toothy grin and Jeremy's heavy camera, I started to roam.
Have you ever just stood back and watched a city breathe? Quepos is quaint but not grandiose. Its not a big
tourist destination. But the afternoon I just stood back and watched that city breathe was one of the highlights of all my travels. I'm not skilled enough with my camera at this point to really capture what I feel when watching these people go about their daily lives. I tried and you all reading must critique me and tell me how I can improve.
Photographing monkeys that afternoon was really amazing but I found another little niche in my life when I started photograhing people doing their daily things. No one I asked to photograph turned me down. No one even hesitated. Then I got lucky. I happened upon a wedding in town that evening during my roam. I could hear music coming from the church and see the bride standing outside with her mother adjusting the train of her dress. The father stood by proudly watching as his daughter was getting ready to walk down the aisle. "What good timing!," I thought to myself. "I think I'll just hide behind this gate and take a few pictures..." Then the father of the bride caught me. He approached and asked me what I was doing. In my rudamentary Spanish,
Mom and baby
Quepos, Costa Rica
I explained I only wanted to take a few pictures of the bride and was sorry I had intruded and would leave. "No, no, no!" he exclaimed! "You come to wedding!"
Did I understand him correctly? Did he just invite me in to the wedding? Yes, he had. I was so touched at that moment by this stranger's kindness my eyes actually filled with tears. It was the biggest moment of his daughter's life and instead of telling this scrawny, nosey, tourist to scram, he invited me in. I looked over to the bride and she smiled brightly and waved me in. I walked through the gates and stood at the church entrance and photographed the bride beginning her descent down the aisle flanked on each side with a parent. I didn't dare go into the church though. I explained to the father, "Mis ropas estan sucias!" (My clothes are dirty). He said it didn't matter and I was invited anyway. I looked down at my shoes full of sand, wet bikini under a tank top and Nike shorts and even though I am from the Midwest, even I couldn't go into church looking like that. The real kicker
was that I don't know jack about taking pictures in a dark church. I could imagine all the guests being distracted by the unkempt American girl and all I'd have to show for it were a bunch of blurry pictures.
I continued my roaming. That evening I held babies, kissed cheeks, hugged and chatted with about every person in town. Maybe I should be a politician instead of a photographer.
I already knew I loved people but what I didn't know is how much I would enjoy taking photos of them. People love to see the pics of themselves and their children and I love sharing those with them. In the meantime I'm learning to hone this skill. The camera intimidates me because it has so many buttons, dials and switches. I'm forcing myelf to learn and practice. Any criticism or advice is surely appreciated.
In the meantime, TALK TALK TALK to strangers!
P.S. Sorry mom.
There are more photos below