I almost didn’t take a camera at all on my trip to Rome and Florence. Snapping a million shots of tourist landmarks and selfies in front of old buildings didn’t feel at all interesting to me. But then, a photographer friend suggested I take a film camera and try something that I’ve actually been wanting to attempt for almost a year: street photography.

Last February, at Photo Native, Shawn Theodore taught an incredible class on street photography in which he said, “I don’t use the term ‘strangers,’ they’re only people I haven’t gotten to know yet.”

It’s easy to tell people to step outside their comfort zone creatively. I do it a lot. It’s an entirely different thing, however, to actually take your own advice and DO the thing that you preach. It took me over two full days of lugging my heavy film camera around Italy, and about four really amazing missed opportunities until I finally got the courage to force myself to take a deep breath and just GO FOR IT.

The first person I approached was a street artist (the first portrait in this post). She didn’t speak English or Italian but, somehow, I was able to communicate with her through gestures and miming adequately enough to make the exact image that first popped in my head when I saw her. To me, it felt like a small miracle and from that point on, I was hooked. With Chas translating for me in Italian, I committed myself to approach every person who I felt inspired by in some way and ask to take their photo. It was honestly scary every single time (I’m an extroverted introvert) but, the more I did it, the more it felt easier to push past the fear and my own insecurities.

I learned so many things about myself and humans in general by doing street photography. My two favorite lessons were that you can NEVER know a person until you actually TRY getting to know them and we ALL just want to connect with each other- no matter the culture/language/age/gender.

Every single one of these portraits has a story behind it and honestly, these stories were my absolute favorite part of the entire trip- even more than the magical vintage Vespa scooter tour through the hills of Tuscany.

People are 110% worth it.

(Canon eos3 with Portra 400 film)

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