Learning How to Ask (#235) 03-05-13

It's a Wednesday, so here we go again. Two weeks ago, I posted a series of three posts about fear – the fear of photographing strangers. I feel confident that the nidus of that fear is in asking permission. We often feel uncomfortable because we are asking someone else to do something for us. The stranger gives, and we take. But is that totally true?

Well, no. For most people (those who will say yes), the gift goes both ways. We get a portrait (and more). The stranger gets human recognition by a fellow human being, and in this disconnected world, this is a lot. Easy to see when asking a disadvantaged, homeless person. She goes for hours, maybe days, without anyone demonstrating recognition of her existence, her humanity. Speaking on an even plane while making strong eye contact is a gift seldom received.

But what about middle class, and even well off strangers? They (we) too, live in a disconnected world of internet appliances and inner loneliness. It amazes me how many strangers like to talk, and even share fairly personal thoughts and experiences. The unexpected chance to connect with a fellow human being is a gift for many.

So, with that thought, below is a video, a TED lecture by musician Amanda F. Palmer (don't ask what the 'F' stands for). This is not specifically about photography. She explains how she learned to ask, and how the other person not only gives back, but finds delight in doing so. Without stealing her thunder, she learned to give away her music, her art, and by doing this gets in return more than what she needs.

This is about 13 minutes long.

Do you give away your art? Might someone else find joy in giving back what you need (permission)?