Read: Damn Reflections

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I’ll let you in on a little secret. I’m not a social person. You might have seen me in the flesh, in the field or perhaps you saw me present, give a workshop, teach a class. That’s not really me. That’s a version of me I bring out when needed. In case of emergency break standard Dan and replace with social Dan. When I meet people I’m typically friendly, and most of the time I like most of the people I meet, but inwardly I might be screaming to get away from you. It’s not you. It’s me. I cherish silence and seclusion more than anything in life, even when I’m shooting. I might be in the middle of a social event but I’m not REALLY there. I’m in my head with myself and my “other” self that invades my brain. The watcher. The thing that allows me to have the secondary conversation running all the time. Last night I picked up an admirer who I saw coming a mile away. The too strong eye contact, the path swerving RIGHT at me from an awkward ninety-degree change of course and I knew I was doomed. Standing there, in the corner, minding my own business, counting the minutes before I could get back out into traffic and do battle. Drinking my water and reading a horrible little brochure of some sort. And there she was. “You aren’t going to Venice are you?” she asked. “What would happen if I pull the fire alarm?” I thought. “Do you have a card?” she inquired. “Nope, sorry, don’t have any cause I’m ALL ABOUT social media.”

“I know,” I thought. “I’ll go shoot reflections.” The perfect way to pass the time. One quick pass around the room trying to find my wife who would later say, “You don’t wear a wedding ring, you deserved it.” I shoot, one, two, three, ten. Color, light, movement. These reflection shots are gateway drugs, into the soul-crushing hard stuff of HDR and pixel-by-pixel manipulation of baby eyes. Once I go down this path I won’t be worth talking to anyway.

I got out just in time.

Comments 6

  1. I’m exactly the same. Being an introvert in a largely extrovert world means having “to act as if” we’re extroverts as required by our profession but balancing with lots of alone time. Large functions (e.g. scientific conferences) are extremely difficult for me unless I know a core group of people there who unwittingly act as my safety net. Teaching classes of 250+ students at the university for 30 years has been quite the challenge and taught me alot about that balancing act.

    You and I have met without ever actually meeting. You gave a talk in Victoria several years ago, I was there (it was a great talk, by the way) but even though I liked the talk immensely, I didn’t come up afterwards to shake your hand and say how much I enjoyed it. I went home right afterwards and wrote a blog post about your talk. And from that we eventually were in touch on line. Given our temperaments, I guess that was pretty much the ideal meet and greet.

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      Hey Paul,
      I remember you from that event, and I remember the post. The ideal miss in our case. There are times when I think I’m getting better but then I realize I’m daydreaming of being in New Mexico in the middle of nowhere…..or on my bike riding across the country.

  2. Dan,

    I feel the same. Always struggled a little with my inner introvert at functions, with large groups etc. Much prefer one on one outings, small gatherings and time out shooting in my calm introverted state. 😉 You seem to handle things well, I thought you were captain outgoing! 😉 anyway, seems for many of us (especially those who were photojournalists like you and I) photography can be a kind of elixer, a place to both focus inward and chill at the same time. For me, it has been so almost all of my life starting at age 14. Good post.


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      It’s an act. I’ve done it long enough to be able to do it, and it’s not torture by any means, but it’s not really me…

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