Sometimes it helps to just let go. Portrait photography can be too serious and it helps loosen you up by showing your goofy, funny self. If I don’t have a lot of time to get to know someone I ask them to show me some crazy. Make a crazy face. These photos are rarely seen except by me.
Faces are strange. They contain so much information. But a person who can find their inner clown shows me their humanity. And it’s humanity I seek to convey.
A person who’s not afraid to show this side of themselves can often show their other, more serious side too. We’re all actors, whether we’re aware of it or not, and posing for a portrait is just another act. It’s just a matter of holding an emotional state in your mind and sitting still.
So whatever it is you want to convey in your photo, think it, be it. Confidence, approachability, friendliness - it’s all in your repertoire. The face has evolved to communicate. Use it.
Yesterday, I was in someone’s living room and I was looking at them through the camera, and we were talking. I was asking questions, getting to know them, and the light was perfect, and the photos were looking great and I thought ‘This is it. Doing this. Meeting someone for the first time and experiencing their life.’
I get to stand in front of strangers and and look at them, and humanity blossoms before me. It’s an incredible honor, a blessing really. I feel as if I am privileged to be in this position. Can I really get paid to help people see their best selves?
If I could I would do it for free. It’s sad that we live in a world where we have to charge money for helping each other. I truly enjoy being a portrait photographer. It brings me joy. It’s not easy, and I’m far from rich, but I have yet to find a job that makes me feel as this one does.
When I look at a face like the one above I am paid a bonus. A tiny explosion of joy erupts within me. Months, years later I feel my heart swell...