One of the things I love about being a photographer is all the people I get to meet. I mean what could be better than getting to meet new friends, bringing out the best of their personality, and capturing that forever. I seriously can’t tell you how much I love it. I crave the whole image creation process all the time and feel like I will burst if I’m not out there doing it.
However, I think a lot of people are slightly intimidated when it comes to getting photographed. We all have had some pretty bad photos taken of us, so I won’t blame anyone. So let’s look at this from the perspective of your average Joe. Lets call him Jack.
Jack just got engaged, his new fiancee just called a photographer and now they are set up to do an “engagement session”. Jack’s not a model and has seen a lot of bad photos of himself before. He doesn’t know what to wear, he is sure he will look awkward, and really has no idea how to act in front of a camera. He’s going to spend a few hours with someone he’s not familier with (the photographer), jump into the unknown, and subject himself to the risk of the possibility of some awkward photos of himself. At least from past experience he thinks that’s what could happen. He looks forward to the opportunity to make his girl happy, but isn’t super excited about this whole outing.
The scene is set for disaster, and this where the photographer jumps in. Wrong. The most common sentence I have heard after I finish an engagement session is “wow that was a lot more fun than I expected” and here is why. Portraiture isn’t about capturing the shape of someones face. That’s what mug shots are for. Portraiture is about capturing the best of someones personality in an image. This is key: If someone isn’t showing the best of their personality you CAN’T capture it!
Like I have mentioned before, photography has a lot to do with relationships. Before I head out to the aforementioned engagement session I try to always have had at least a consultation over coffee so we can start to get to know each other a little bit. For non engagement sessions it’s fun to either meet at a Starbucks and talk first, or at least carpool together to the location so we can get to know each other. I will always advise everyone in advance to bring 6-7 sets of clothes. That way we can match the clothes to the location as we go an put something together which looks great! I also don’t expect Jack to be a professional model and will give a lot of direction as we go to make sure everyone looks good.
But more than all that it’s about having fun. I think that’s what I enjoy so much about photographing couples. They laugh, they dance, they hug, they kiss. The give each other their own secret little expressions and I get to capture them. We run through fields, wander alleys, climb on trains, hang out in coffee shops, walk through the subway, climbs hills, splash in the ocean. It’s real emotion and it’s fun! Portraiture isn’t about creating mug shots of Jack and Jill standing on the hill. Anyone can capture the shape of their faces standing on a hill. Portraiture is about capturing the real them, the best of the real them! That’s what I love so much.
So seriously, let go of the fear and be happy. Think of it more like a date and I’m the third wheel. =)
Ok these photos have nothing to do with the above article. But I was given an assignment. The assignment was to descend on The Master’s College campus and in a short period time find some students and photograph them for some publicity photos. I parked my car, grabbed my camera, and just wandered till I found some strangers to photograph. I walked up to them and asked if could do a 1 minute mini session right there where they were standing. Here are the results! =). Thanks for being real guys! You look great!
Tommy (below) is the exception. I already knew Tommy.