This article is a repost of a guest blog I did for Rear Curtain. Rear Curtain is a great organization run by friends who are seriously passionate about telling stories. Do yourself a favor and check them out here
This is the first part of a three part series on how we can learn to relate to other cultures as photographers by embracing aspects of our own culture. Many struggle to realize that our own unique cultures are a good tool that can help us communicate and understand cross culturally. There is a correlation between understanding one’s own culture and engaging in a new and different one. Through embracing, valuing, and understanding our culture first, we can recognize and appreciate cultures that are not our own.
One of my favorite things about my job leading tours in western China is that I get to watch people experience new cultures. I find it fascinating how people go about processing cultures, places, foods, and experiences for the first time – both the good and the bad. Looking at the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of cultural interaction can give us useful insights on ways to enrich our future photographic cross cultural experiences.
After living and traveling overseas, I’ve distinctly noticed that people, though undeniably unique, share a lot of the same wants, hopes, needs, and desires. These shared aspects sometimes reveal themselves in exotic and different looking ways, but rest assured, we do have something in common.
It’s amazing what we can learn when we focus on the commonality of the human race as opposed to what we more often focus on: the differences. It’s because of these common areas that I believe it’s important to have understanding and respect for our own culture when we enter into a new one.