One of the great things about conversations with new friends is asking questions that allow you to see yourself through a new set of eyes. I learned that the “real fruits of my labor” as a photographer were not the photograph, but rather the conversations with the subjects I coveted. The picture was an artifact that helped me to remember that interaction.
My wife, in a variation of this concept, referred to me once as a people collector. I even toyed with the idea as a title for a book and often used it as a hashtag (#Peoplecollector) for the smartphone portraits I capture of people I encounter daily.
“My product” is the moment, the engagement, the conversation: the photograph, just the excuse to being there.
One of my interns keeps a running journal of people she meets through our daily interactions, during a walk down the street, waiting for the elevator, or on a photo assignment. Until she started keeping score, I never saw these interactions as my thing. Or maybe I did, perhaps subconsciously these "Richard Kelly Experiences," as she calls them, are my fuel, my purpose, my creative accelerant that keeps me on my quest for the next new person to add to the people collection.