Comfort zone. Who’s that?

I have always hated people telling me to “come out of my comfort zone”, it exists for a reason, right? Why, when in regular day to day life I’m constantly forced out of my comfort zone, would I actively choose to do it. Now, this isn’t a post saying I did one time and my world view drastically changed and now I am a new person, just that sometimes, you can surprise yourself and actually do well outside of it. The key is not worrying.

As some of you know (if you actually regularly read my rambles) I have quite bad anxiety (understatement but here we are). So, when I applied to be a photography tutor, I slightly shocked myself and even though I talk the big talk of wanting to be paid for my knowledge, in reality I knew I would freeze up and possibly cry in front of a class who may not even be as remotely passionate as me. My application was accepted and my time tutoring began. I was about to be wildly thrown out of my comfort zone and into the deep end.

I ran my first class at the end of February and it was ridiculously nerve-wracking the night before as the reality set in that in 12 hours I would be teaching 12 people (max is 15 and I was told to not be disheartened if not many people sign up because they dont usually when it’s a new person). When throughout university I used to be panicking in front of 6 people I was truly deep in the panic and I was trying not to get into my own head. “I am good at what I do” I kept telling myself. “They’re here to learn not criticise”, only they were there to criticise- I was going to be rated to see if my employer wanted to keep me or not, but it was time to push those thoughts deep down and forget I was technically being graded.

On to the class. I’ve never taught, let alone done a photography walk. What on earth was I meant to do when I wasnt in a classroom setting like I am used to and I didnt want to make people feel as though they wasted money. I chose to go with my gut- it’s usually pretty good at being kind to me. I began with a brief introduction, everyone knew they were doing street photography. I had no idea what their definition of this was, but I’m the tutor, if they looked me up prior they would know my photography is often abstract, so that’s what they’re doing to get.

The themes I covered in quick segments (I had 2 hours to do everything) were:

  • Reflections- we were close to a river and canal, windows, puddles etc. How they wished to shoot this was completely up to them, I just wanted to get their brain thinking different with things they may not generally notice.
  • Close ups. This could either be suuuuper close or just focusing on one thing in the foreground. Again completely up to them, but as many of my projects do, I wanted them to focus on some finer details to tell their story of the area.
  • Old and new. Tell the story of economical growth in the area, the old and new structures next to each other. This could also include people, both old and young. Although I dont think many people thought of this, which is a shame as I know some people had strong views that I was doing street photography wrong and it definitely always had to involve people.
  • Long exposure. A difficult one on a bright day, but I reminded everyone that long exposure isnt necessarily 30 second exposures and could definitely just be 1/30 or just anything under 1/125 really.
  • Portraits. Pretty self explanatory to be fair. It just needed people who were ballsy enough to stand in front of a camera, which is of course hard to plan for because speaking from experience, most photographers hating being on the lens side!

Over all I really enjoyed myself and despite an issue with someone clearly thinking that because I am young I am inferior, I handled myself surprisingly well AND recieved a 5 star rating.

And of course, I took a few photos myself and here they are:

2 thoughts on “Comfort zone. Who’s that?

  1. You did yourself proud, Alex. I don’t think anyone would have known it was your first time if you hadn’t told us first 😀

    It was an enjoyable session despite being freezing cold and the themes you gave us were great for stretching us creatively. You’ve got some nice shots yourself on here 👍

  2. You did great Alex. You would never have guessed that it was your first workshop. Keep them coming. Everyone’s got a different take on Street photography, that’s what makes it interesting. Cheers Mark

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