The night was more alive in the day. The sounds stranger and the smells, smellier…
That’s exactly why I fell in love with Chiang Mai, Thailand. The city center, by a walled moat, known as the Old City, has more variety in one square mile than I’ve seen in all my years of travel.
Famous for its night market, this rough and tough ancient city has island vibes, Great Wi-Fi, and a friendly culture of smiley people.
I’ll Never forget those smiles…
Have you ever been unexpectedly caught in a gaze with a Stranger? It could happen quite often in this city. And it’s kind of magical. It stops you in your tracks and removes time even if just for an instant. To catch that on camera: to be a photographer and have someone else look at you through the lines and hold your keys, it’s all we can hope for.
In that split second a stranger becomes a friend, a connection that reminds us we are not alone and we are very much the same.
In that instant it feels like everything around you falls away. That gaze is consciousness, awareness. It is a reminder that though she is of a different culture and she lives a very different life, she is still human. She is still a woman just like me. And she sees me. Just like I see her.
That gaze came from somewhere else. Not just physically seeing me walk by. It’s like she recognized me from afar and had a feeling that we already knew each other.
Her smile says, “Hello again. Nice to see you again.” Only a stranger can give you that sense of completeness. Only someone from the other side of the world, connecting through a gaze can offer us a sense of how truly small this world really is and how intricately connected we all are.
Yet quite often as soon as that moment arises, it’s false. We fall back into our minds and quickly turn our away.
The facial expressions immediately revert back to “Reality “and we both become actors on the stage of life once more. Fitting Into our surroundings, we start thinking again instead of feeling. Her playing the part of local entertainer, I the tourist. But this tourist isn’t here to consume cultural differences. I am here to create cultural connections.
And to do that, I must stay aware, open minded, and have the courage to hold her gaze once more. In that second fleeting moment I was able to anticipate, prepare my camera, smile ever so slightly, and nod in appreciation as I placed my eye to the viewfinder and clicked the shutter.
And a second later, the moment was over. I walked by already looking at something else of interest. She kept gazing ahead, playing her violin. But I knew she knew it too.
It only takes a split second of connection with another human soul to remind us that we are all one consciousness having multiple human experiences.
What inspires you to take a photo is what make you feel connected to that experience.
As you become aware of your subject, it is important to consider how she/he feels and behaves. Remember, we are stepping into their world and if we truly want to “see” who they are, we must show them that we understand them. A simple genuine gaze can do that instantly. That is trust. An invitation to their heart.