For my documentary photography mid-term project I stopped at gas stations between Rexburg, Idaho and Provo, Utah to photograph the people that worked there. I stopped at several stations, but didn't photograph at all of them. Sometimes there were too many people there, and I really didn't want to interfere with anyone's work too much. I have found that I personally can only feel comfortable taking photos when I have people's consent. Another interesting project might be to train myself to break away from that comfort zone and just make photographs of people with reckless abandon. Street photographers have this kind of confidence, but I'm not sure I fit into that category. Most of my encounters started like this.
"Hello there, this might seem like a strange question to ask, but I am doing a documentary on people who work in gas stations. Would you mind if I took a portrait or two of you?" Most people laughed, but everyone I met was very friendly. Some encouraged me to come back sometime and take more pictures. I told them I was only passing through, but that I was grateful for their cooperation. This project was small and short, but I think I took another small step in learning an important lesson.
Everyone has a story.
Our interactions with cashiers are often so quick and meaningless. A financial transaction is processed as fast as possible and then off we go. But it was interesting to stop and talk to these people. Even if the introduction was a little strange, and the conversation somewhat superficial, at least I had an excuse to just talk to them. I feel like sometimes we move too fast. I know I do quite often. I'm hoping that perhaps we can all learn to slow down and appreciate the presence of everyone we come into contact with. The worth of souls is great in the sight of god.
Next time when you find yourself walking towards another person on an empty street. Don't look down. Look up and smile. Say hello. And tell them in that small way that you care.