I take pictures. Nothing more. Nothing less. 

Amish Country

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Today, let me talk about something that really is a by-product of being a photographer. I am a tall person ... that could be very intimidating to many people, especially strangers. How can any of us -- tall or not -- simply walk up to local people while traveling and talk without them fearing the encounter?

I make a living traveling with my cameras, documenting people and places in over 180 countries. . But let's say that I worked at something else, but still loved to travel and meet people & see new places. As a tall person, or put yourself into that situation, HOW could I (or you) ever walk up to someone in another country or city and meet them and communicate without some justification for reaching out to them? It is not easy to do even in the easiest of situations.

What I really am saying is that the camera ALLOWS me wonderful freedom .... it allows me and gives me a REASON to approach strangers, show them an image and find out more about them. If I ever approached them without the camera, it would be awkward and they probably would feel to see if they still had their wallet!  
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So I can tell you and everyone .... allow your camera to be a calling card to allow you to mingle, meet strangers and travel the world meeting locals! That is one of the BEST side effects I can tell you about taking pictures --- professionally or not!

To illustrate that fact, look at this cute little old lady tending her sunflower garden with a watering can. I was driving around Amish country in Ohio last summer and spotted her in her yard. I turned the car around, and approached her with my cameras & tripod. Again.... how could I ever walk all the way up her driveway and not have her fear me if I had no camera and just wanted to talk?? She was wonderful and I learned she was an 89-year old Great Grandmother, had 7 children and just had the greatest smile! I photographed her, shot stock video clips of her watering her flowers, had her sign a model-release, and later sent her a picture & a thank you note. That is the GREATEST part of traveling with a camera!

I repeat --- isn't traveling with a camera wonderful??!! I hope perhaps I allowed you to see a new reason and ability to love taking pictures today!