PROMETHEAN | photographer | TEACHER | listener

Photography blog

Making bears (and friends) out of stone (and thin air) ...


Was asked recently if I ever get scared or nervous about approaching strangers and asking if I could make a picture of them.

The answer is yes, of course. Approaching a stranger is nearly always a little bit nerve wracking, especially if you want to generate a photoshoot with the stranger out of thin air. It is SCARY STUFF.

But you know what I'm more scared of?

Leaving and NOT asking the stranger for their photograph. Because when you walk away from a potentially ripper portrait with NOTHING in your camera ... well that just feels worse.

So when we witnessed something incredible while we were on holidays in New Zealand, recently, I had to take a deep breath and ask.

We had popped into Oamaru, New Zealand, and found a whole heap of creators crafting sculptures from huge chunks of sandstone. One bloke seemed really interesting. He was carving bears out of the stone.

My head said:

* But what if he says "go away"?
* What if he says "no, thanks"?

My heart said:

* What's the worst that could happen?

So I asked him what he what he was doing, where he learned how to do it and I asked him how long he'd been at it. I asked him where lived and how far he had traveled. I asked him what he liked about Australia, and, if he would ever visit again. I was interested in what he had to say and I listened and responded.

The sculptor we spoke to said he'd be at this creation for days. The sandstone carves quickly BUT the time consuming part was in refining the art. Sandstone carving  sounded similar to photography, in that regard, I said. Fairly quick to grasp, very slow to master.

We had a great chat, and, then, I asked if I could make some pictures.

He said yes and I got to work.

It was a pleasure to meet you, Sir, and wonderful to watch you work. Thank you for the pictures. I'm really glad I asked.

Always talk to strangers,


Ben Eyles2 Comments