Use Photography To Overcome Shyness

Taking photographs isn't just a great way of recording experiences — according to veteran photographer David Hurn, it's also a useful way of overcoming shyness.

Picture by julishannon

While Hurn has taken photographs all over the world, including iconic 1960s film images from the James Bond series and Barbarella, that didn't mean he was bursting with confidence. Instead, as he explained at the recent Focus on Imaging conference in Birmingham, taking up photography as an army hobby helped him control his shyness:

I'm extremely shy but full of curiosity — the camera helps you get over shyness. You hide behind the camera and it gives you a reason to be somewhere. If you're polite and you show a genuine interest, people embrace you.

While there's always a subset of people who will have the opposite reaction, it's certainly true that the camera can be a useful passport into unfamiliar situations.


    I love this post! I've been actually struggling with being extra shy, and I do slightly feel even more bare without my camera. But I realized the voyeur in me is justified when I have my Nikon pressed against my eyes.. lol. I do have one question though, while the camera can take the pressure off of that shyness, there is still the initial approach of asking if you can take a picture of that person. How are you able to do that (if you do it at all), and what is your success rate as to not get a dirty look or unkind word? ;-)

      I have trouble with this too, and it's always that catch 22 - you want to make sure you have permission- but you still want the natural, unposed look. So far I haven't found a good method. I've focused mainly on animals because of that...

    Friendly, polite, genuine interest - if that doesn't work, its their problem. Its not your fault.

    Hi Angus,

    Found your blog while doing some research (I conduct a coaching service helping people to overcome shyness), and I definitely agree - an interest like photography is a great way to overcome our hesitations. Many of us get 'stuck in a loop', and having a motivator like this is a great way to push us out of this loop.
    ps Mathius I like your comment - too often people internalize and worry about others' reactions - people's reactions are usually 'about them'.
    Another great way to decrease your hesitation in asking - think of some completely outrageous reaction (ie the other person screaming and kicking you), and think "well, I know THAT's never happened" (unless it has...)
    Thanks for the article!

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