At this point in my life in my career in professional photography I find myself being asked questions about photography gear, recommendations for models and photographers, critique on work, help with modeling and portfolios, and much more. The one thing people don't ask about but I often end up talking about is the sociability that photography provides you.
I found myself passionate about photography at a very young age. I vividly remember my mother setting up a tripod in our rural town in Oregon. We lived next to a highway and it was dusk during a warm Summer's eve. I asked her what she was doing and she explained to me that she was taking a long-exposure of when the cars go by. I wasn't totally sure what she meant or even what she was trying to do, but I remember the setup she had and what I was wearing, the color of the trees across the street, and what my mom's hair looked like.
Later I remember her getting the photos developed and my 5 or 6 year old self seeing the long-exposure photo that she was trying to describe to me of the car going by, which was an image of several light-trail streams going across the length of the photo, above the highway road.
For years I showed that photo to everyone I could and said "My mom took this photo of a car going so fast that it left nothing but its lights!" - I was wrong, but that still sparked my curiosity of HOW?
Thinking about photography nearly every day since then, I took every opportunity I could to take photos and video of friends, local bands, random adventures, things for school, etc. Every chance I could! I'm sure that most of my friends and acquaintances from my teen years remember me with a camera in hand.
I learned something valuable then. I learned that a camera in hand becomes a sociability tool as well as an ice breaker to talk to anyone.
What I do now when I give people photography advice, or if they bring up that they considered getting into photography, is to most definitely do it! You want to meet new people and make new friends? Get your camera out and go talk to people. Ask if you can take their photograph.
If you're confident with your work, you can even show them the photo right after you take it, on the back of your camera. What a way to open up some dialogue with a new person! I have made so many wonderful friends through photography by just walking up and asking if I could take their photo, it is amazing.
Every stranger has a story and by using photography as a tool to help you reach out and hear these stories you can learn a lot more about people, places, experiences, and also let you make your own experiences in life in ways you never considered.
All of these photos are the first photo I took of the people and then one later on in life, after our stories continue. None of these memories and moments, that you are now seeing, would exist if I hadn't reached out.
When asked what you would grab if your house was on fire, more often than not one of the first answers is "the photo album". Those memories are created by someone at some point in the past to share with the future. As long as we remember them they will live forever.