You know that guy or girl who makes your coffee every morning? chances are that they are a face that has become part of the furniture of your life. Have you ever taken the time to find out who they are or what they do apart from serve coffee?

I worked in the service industry as a bartender, barista and waiter for ten years - from my A Levels in Birmingham, through studying Fine Art for 5 years; Through another two years travelling, and 2 more years studying photography. It was an education in itself, but like the vast majority of servers I had ambitions beyond just prepping your latte.

This morning I opened up a conversation with the Indian chap who has made my latte for the last 8 consecutive working days - our conversation has slowly progressed from an emotionless transaction, to today's exchange where I found out that he is from Gujharat (he proudly informed me that Gujharat is the birth state of Ghandi), and that he has been in the UK for 5 years, progressing up the ladder of cricket umpiring qualifications. He is now an ECB umpire and is aiming to reach county level. I now have a new cricket friend, and I'm looking forward to the next time I go for a latte so that we can discuss the ongoing England vs India test series.

So - two thoughts - one life related, one photography related.

First off - get to know the people who serve you day in, day out. Being a server can at times be a little bit soul destroying, and interaction beyond the transaction can be rewarding for both parties.

Second - if you're a photographer, interacting with new people and breaking down boundaries is a key skill; If you can find common ground with those around you, and can quickly build trust and mutual respect, then you'll find that things just happen easier. This applies to so many situations - whether trying to gain access to a location, placating a member of the public who is unhappy about being in one of your street photographs, helping a portrait subject to relax, or collaborating with a new creative team on a commercial assignment.

Too many photographers are tense and on edge when they are making work; If you relax and show your human side, perhaps your photography will happen for you more smoothly.
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