Each person is unique, but each person is connected to every other and has more similarities than differences. Without over-stating it (actually without stating it at all) that is what I try and communicate. Without realizing it, I want you to see yourself in every face.
It’s strange how what we notice first about someone are the differences. In an instant we perceive how we are not alike. Those differences are, in that fleeting moment, purely physical. Skin color. Body type. Ethnicity. Age. That is what our eyes are trained to do, that’s what they evolved to do. It seems to me that we could solve many problems if we saw less with our eyes and more with our hearts,
It’s easier to do that when we’re honest in how we come across in something as facile as a photograph. We live now in a world where photographs are ubiquitous. They’re often what we first see of each other now. So they’re important. They say you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression but I don’t think that’s true...
I can’t take everyone out to the Marin Headlands for portraits. I wish I could. The light is sublime. And the backgrounds are so interesting. Maybe one day I’ll do a series of team portraits there. It’s not easy to get to, but the results speak for themselves.
I choose to photograph in natural light because of the subtlety and nuance. I like the serendipity factor. You never know what you’re going to get. And there’s a freedom to this. Under the right conditions I can recreate a similar effect indoors, but still there’s something to roaming - randomly moving from place to place.
My favorite locations all have this in common - you can wander and always find great light and backgrounds. Perhaps someday I’ll do a portrait series in San Francisco’s Chinatown. That wo
uld be perfect for a local company.
If you’re looking for the standard headshot against a flat color, I’m really not your man. I can do that of course, but my strength is in synchronicity in natural light and locations. I’m lookin...
I know that we are so much more than we see. We are not our photographs, not our reflections. Yet, in those things there is an aura of truth. The eyes see, but the heart processes. The more we look the more we feel.
Fleeting glances reveal but surfaces. To go deep you must absorb, and that means looking with organs other than eyes.
Intent is crucial. You have to want to see. If a photographer takes this approach, the resulting images will more likely reverberate with an energy beyond the visual. Why does it matter? Because such portraits leave an impression. Because the human behind the image will register.
You want to capture attention, and hold it long enough for a person to feel something. It’s not about vanity. It’s about conveying the essential you. Passion, commitment, care. That’s what you want to show. You don’t get that from a selfie. You don’t get that from an assembly line photographer.
When you choose a photographer engage a person who engages you. Choose wisely. The wrong doc...
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...
If you’re reading this then my strategy worked. I shot a photograph intriguing enough to pique your curiosity. This particular location gets good light and every portrait I do here is intriguing. They (the photos I take here) look more like paintings than photographs and that’s a quality I strive for.
It’s a certain timeless, classic look. Fifty years from now you can look back on this and it will feel just as alive. That’s my goal, to take photos that will stand the test of time, not appear dated, and convey the vital essence of a person. I don’t always succeed. But I succeed often enough to know that I’m onto something. This is no fluke.
I think that this approach is just as valid for corporate headshots as it is for personal ones. I think that LinkedIN is the perfect venue for pictures that reach out through the screen and grab hold of you. I look at hundreds, no thousands, of LinkedIN profiles and the ones that really grab my attention are the ones where the person has given careful...
Do I want to meet this person? Is their photograph asking me to sit down and talk? I’ve said before that a good portrait beckons interaction. If, after seeing your photo, I want to meet you then that is a success.
An effective portrait is the beginning of a conversation. It’s an unspoken invitation. I can read it in your face and in your body language. I can see it in your eyes. I want to feel welcome to participate in your life. That’s the intention you need to set and the message you must convey.
I say ‘need’ and ‘must’ but I only mean that in a way to suggest that you consider the results you want. To think about what you hope to communicate. An effective portrait starts there. Who is your audience? What do you want them to feel? I am approachable. I am intelligent. I listen. I suggest that it’s as simple as that.
What if we only looked at each other’s eyes and nothing else? Forget the head and the body and the skin. Our eyes, those soul gateways, are the common denominator between us. You can’t tell a person’s religion from their eyes alone. Or their political party. Or even their sex. When you look a person in the eye, you are connecting to their heart and seeing beyond mere visual perception.
A portrait begins like this. I look into a person’s eyes. I see them. I listen. By the time the camera is raised they have already gotten to know me as I truly am. We are well on our way to establishing a connection.
The best portraits, the most effective, happen organically when talking and walking. Like the portrait above. We were simply walking through the neighborhood surrounding Brian’s office when I happened to see this old house with a perfect lightscape. But we had been talking, and getting to know one another. So when the moment presented itself we were ready. He was comfortable and not afraid to...
Sometimes it takes a minute. Sometimes an hour or more. But that connection, that authentic bridge between two human beings always does occur when I set my intention on it. When a person opens up to being seen, and known, the result is always a photograph engenders connection.
Not every person has this in mind. Not every person thinks about it in this way. Most don't. So I sort of have to trick them into it. I have to disarm them. And I do that by being vulnerable myself. I turn over on my back and show them my belly, so to speak. I do everything I can to let them know I'm not a threat.
And then I disclose. I'll talk about my life. I'll talk about how camera shy I am (because I am). Basically I have a normal conversation and over time we learn about each other. Where we grew up. Where we went to school. What we believe in.
A meaningful conversation, in my opinion, is one in which two people open up their hearts. So when I say I shoot wide open I don't mean just my aperture. Yes, I shoot a...
You’re the beacon. You’re the source. Each person is filled with a thousand suns. I chose the name The Lighthouse to describe people. Almost every other photographer uses their own name. Bob Smith Photography. Sara Jones Photography. And that’s fine. But I realized early on that the photography I do is not wholly my own. It belongs to you.
The photograph itself, the end result, the portrait, is a byproduct of a conversation. I think my portraits stand out because of this intention. My goal is not to capture, but to reflect. And I can only reflect what’s happening in that moment. If we’re engaged, the photograph will be engaging.
I use only natural light, and available backgrounds, not because I’m lazy but because this approach yields compelling results. If you are the lighthouse, I just need to put myself in the position of receiving that light.
I’m not a painter, and I have no training as an artist, but it’s my goal to create a painterly portrait, a portrait that is riveting and timeless...