Men, if you’ve already made the decision to get your photo done (for social media, dating sites, LinkedIN etc.) there are a few things that will help you get the most out of the experience. I’ve done hundreds and hundreds of portraits and here’s what I’ve found to be the best way to prepare for yours.
Choose a photographer whose portfolio of work you admire, someone who inspires you, someone you think you can get along with. It’s like choosing a doctor, bedside manner counts. Communication between you and your photographer is not just verbal. You’re looking for chemistry.
Choose a location that resonates with your personality, and preferably offers a variety of textures and lighting ‘zones’. In the example above we chose the Golden Gate Bridge, which gave us many options for spontaneous ‘scenes’. The environment will seep into you, and enhance your on-camera personality.
In terms of wardrobe go for a classic, timeless look. Solid colors, clean lines, a well-fitted style. W...
In photographs we sometimes glimpse that little spark of life in us. There’s something beyond perception, beyond what we can see with our eyes, that manifests. Our more subtle senses pick this up. In some photographs. How does this happen?
I think (and this is just a guess) that when two people agree to see each other something comes through from a realm of spirit. And that something transcends time, generations, form. We live in a time when if we can’t see it with our own eyes we don’t believe it’s true but what of all the truth that can’t be seen?
Not everything can be labeled, cataloged or numbered. Data is fine for stock markets and purchasing trends but can data capture the human soul? They say this is the era of ‘big data’ and perhaps that’s why we seem to be losing that sense of humanity, the sanity of human interaction, that helped us to know each other as individuals.
Maybe I’m probing too deeply for a photography blog. These essays are supposed to be about what sets my photograp...
Presence. That’s what I’m going for. I want you to feel as if you’re standing in front of the person in the photograph. I want them to feel real. I want you to feel as if you could just reach out and touch them. People worry about how they look in a photo but it’s not how you look, it’s how you feel.
That feeling is the difference between a stiff, sterile portrait and one that conveys a true sense of you. Not the whole you obviously, but a whiff of you, a flavor. There’s a certain essence that comes through. That essence is, I guess, spirit, or maybe even soul. I don’t know. I certainly don’t want to over-analyze it, or even think too much about it. But you either feel it or you don’t.
I have found that natural light and natural backgrounds work best. They compliment your natural qualities. I have also discovered that serendipity - chance juxtapositions of texture, color, and light - plays an important role. You just don’t get this in a studio or with a plain, uniform background element.
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...
As someone who takes photography seriously I spend a lot of time looking at the surfaces of people and things. It appears that these surfaces are my primary concern. Is the light right? Is the texture right? Is the person sitting up straight? But that's not true. My focus is not in how a thing looks but how it feels.
So much of portrait photography, as I see it, is done by feel. Light is important and so is the person staring back at me but there's a subtle quality of feel that's always going on. What is the feeling that wants to manifest and can I affect it?
This is a strange art form, as mysterious to me as fiction writing, but I find that if I lean into it the result is always true.
Who we are, the essence of who we are, lies so much deeper than the surface. Yet something at the surface does convey it. This is not a riddle to be solved just an observation. After doing hundreds of portraits I have learned, or at at least perceived, that there is something of all of us in every face. I a...