People are beautiful, and the more headshots I do the more that fact is reinforced. Despite what we see out the window the world is filled with goodness and light. Most of the time I meet complete strangers, but when I leave them they are strangers no more. And I am overcome with hope and joy. That’s because even during a short photo session I come to understand that we are all connected, and so much alike.
Take this CEO of a natural products’ company for instance. He’s so passionate about his brand. He sold me in thirty seconds. And that’s because he’s real. There’s no sales pitch needed when you speak the truth. When it comes from the heart you just feel it. Authenticity is my wheelhouse. If you show up fake you come off fake. But the inverse is also true.
What I have to say to you is that we live in a time when truth and realness matters. More than ever. I want to be part of that. I want to capture that. I want to be a vehicle of light and authenticity. That’s my mission on this ear...
I tell people always not to worry about their skin or their hair. The focal point in any portrait is your eyes. There’s not much you can do to affect them, but you can hold the truth in your heart, the truth about who you are. Your eyes cannot hide you. They can’t be Photoshopped. They can’t be faked. So just look at me and breathe, I say. Show me who you are. This is not really a conscious choice but you can set intent. And intent shines through.
I can provide you with a focal point. All you need to do is relate to me. Just be present and talk to me. Or I can talk to you. Whatever works for you. A portrait is a conversation, or part of one. It’s one side of a conversation, and you can glean the energy and the veracity of that conversation by looking at the results. You can’t be authentic for me if I’m not authentic for you.
So the onus is on me to create space for that. My intent must be open and focused on you. And I have to be real. I can’t fake it either. If your portrait fails I ta...
You are a story. And a portrait is a wordless version of that story with no beginning, no middle, and no end, There is no arc to the now. If you look at your portrait, and assign to it moments from the past and future yet to come, you will be distorting it, and may not like what you see. It’s human nature to create some sort of Gestalt composed of memories and expectations but that is wholly unnecessary and potentially counterproductive. Your portrait is a slice of the now. And by the time you even see it, it is in the past.
Part of my job is to take the picture. But another part is to help you to interpret it. When I see your photograph I see beauty, no matter what you see. I have no filters, I create no story where none exists. Unfortunately I can’t be there for every person when they see their photo for the first time, but that’s the kind of photography I want to be doing. I hesitate to call it therapeutic. Let’s call it guided. The whole experience, from the moment we meet through...
If there’s one thing I believe in as a photographer, one guiding principle I turn to again and again, it’s that seemingly chance occurrences and juxtapositions are every bit a part of the process as light and composition. You never know what you’re going to discover. And the more control you have over the elements of a photograph, the less this important part of the experience shows up.
It’s scary to trust that you will find the light, find the right background and be handed such a perfect setting as say, this, above. But in my experience 95% of the time the universe, or God, or you could call it luck, arranges things so that it all works out.
I believe in serendipity like I believe in gravity. It’s a mysterious force that always works. It works in regular day to day life and for sure in photography. I have taken far too many pictures to have not noticed its effects. When I do portraits on location (outdoors and not in an office) I often discover amazing and meaningful things waiting for...
He was a stranger that day. He just walked up to me and asked if I could take his picture. We were in Chinatown. It was my birthday. I was doing free portraits for my friends, or anyone who would show up in Chinatown. And I loved him instantly. He was so open, so willing. He trusted me before he even knew me. He used to live in Chinatown, he told me. This alley was familiar to him. He was comfortable and relaxed. A perfect subject for a portrait.
The perfect subject for a portrait is a person who wears their heart on their sleeve. A perfect subject for a portrait engages me as if I were an old friend. A perfect subject for a portrait is not afraid to get close, to be emotionally intimate. A perfect subject for a portrait feels totally comfortable in their own skin. You don’t have to be perfect but it’s helpful to be aware of these things. All you have to do is be yourself, the way you are with your family and friends. Treat me as a family member. Treat me as a friend.
A company is made of people. It is the people who define the brand. If you can feel the passion, feel the zeal, your connection to that brand will be authentic. You can’t believe in a logo. You believe in human beings. Sometimes that begins with a photograph.
I’ve been lucky. I’ve had the opportunity to photograph brilliant people at companies large and small. From start-ups to industry leaders I’ve played a small role in capturing the magic behind the brands.
My specialty is in corporate portraits. About Us pages. Speaker bios. It doesn’t matter the size of the company. All that matters is that the people love what they do. Because that passion can be captured. In fact, if it’s real, it can’t b contained.
I specialize in portraits. Not so much headshots, but authentic, real, true photographs that capture the essence of a person. I'm especially good with people who don't like their picture taken. The process of a portrait involves a conversation. The result is a natural photograph. I don'...
We can’t possibly know what’s going on inside a person. But there’s a whole universe in there, an entire lifetime of experiences and feelings. Looking at a face is like looking at a distant galaxy through a radio telescope. Something is there. But what?
To some degree we are mysteries to one another but we are more alike than we often believe. We may be galaxies orbiting in our own universes but we share so much. We are here together, on this planet, breathing the same air. We have arms and legs and hearts. We have mothers and sisters and sons. We eat food, drink water and sleep. We love and despair.
My portraits celebrate that. They are an attempt to recognize one another as individuals, but also collectively as people. I mean, this is not something I think about while taking photographs. I don’t think about the meta purpose. I focus on the person. But I see each as a planet recognizing that we’re all spinning around the same star.
I know that I’m just looking at the surface, below which...
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.
When I look at a face in a photograph I want to feel the person, get a real sense of their spirit. For this to happen they have to behave toward me as if I was an old and trusted friend.
This person here I’ve known for thirty-eight years so it was easy. There is no barrier between us. He knows how I see the world, and thus trusts me, not just with the camera, but with all the little decisions that have to be made after the photo is taken. People don’t realize this.
I take an edit pass over the photos. I choose the photos that I will show you. I process those photos in such a way as to enhance light, line, texture, skin tone etc.. That’s really the work. That’s the hard part. Taking the photo is only half the job. The other half is editing. It takes longer to edit a photo than it does to take it. When choosing a photographer consider their editing skills.
I look at thousands and thousands of faces. Selecting the ones that convey the right ‘feeling’ is the most important part of what I do a...
I’ve said this before but your face is an invitation and your portrait (on social media, websites, bios etc.) is either going to beckon connection and interaction or it’s not. If we’re bothering to be here on these platforms at all then it’s interaction we’re after.
I always tell people, “Think of me as your client, your customer. Look at me the way you’d look at them.” The energy should flow from you to me. That way you have the ‘power’ in the dynamic.
That power dynamic is, I think, what intimidates some people about being photographed. A photographer is not an authority figure, though he/she is often looked at as one. What we do do is get close to you then show you what you look like now, in the moment, and that’s kind of powerful.
Not all of us are up for that. We age, we gain weight, our skin changes. Time does what it does. It’s easy to squint in the bathroom mirror but not at a photograph you just paid for. So before you get that portrait done, spend some time looking at yourself,...
A photograph is a portal through which we may enter the heart of another human being. It is a glimpse of something that cannot be fully conveyed in an instant. It’s not the whole picture. It is not something that can even be seen.
Auras, and energy and chakras sound like hippie talk but they are just words for the ineffable quality of a mind attached to a living body. They speak of things seen and felt beyond seeing. I wish I had a word for that feeling, the feeling that you are in the presence of something alive and wise.
That aliveness, that vibrancy, is all I hope to capture and it usually comes through, though not always as dramatically as in the portrait of Jonah above.
Light is important. Backgrounds are important. But what really matters is the connection between me and you. Maybe that makes you feel uncomfortable. You don’t know me. But if you allow me to take your picture you will. You won’t know the details of my life but you’ll know the kind of person that I am, you’ll know kin...
It was my first portrait booking outside of San Francisco. Never before had I been flown in for photos but New York City is my hometown and I was lucky enough to know the brother of the firm. I didn’t know the people, had never been to their offices. But they sent me some photos of their space and I could see right away they had good light.
I was nervous. I always am before a shoot, but this time there was a lot at stake. I had not done this many portraits in such a short amount of time, and I had no idea what the set-up would be like. But Dave, the CEO, has a great aesthetic and as soon as I walked in I saw these chairs. Mid-Century modern. Not quite quite wing-backs but broad across the tops and in wonderful colors. That’s when I remembered David Hockney.
I’m a fan of David Hockney. Especially his painted portraits of people (mostly men) seated in these beautiful chairs. I had long been inspired by him to simply sit people in an interesting chair, in good light, and engage them with th...
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...
Not everyone wants to be seen. I mean truly seen. Many of us prefer some degree of obfuscation. The people I photograph, mostly, want to be seen. They’re looking for something a bit more authentic, something not as plastic as a headshot.
I approach photography like I approach all relationships. I’m looking to know people. I want to get below the surface, past all the small talk and into the realms of the real. Life is just too short for anything else.
So if you’re going to look at me, look at me. I don’t care if this is your ‘business’ portrait, authenticity matters more than ever now. I think we’re learning that through this experience with Trump. It’s not that this president taught me anything, it’s that he’s validated something I’ve always believed. Sincerity matters. Truth matters. People matter.
Across the board, from business to pleasure, how we show up in the world is not determined by a hard line between different personas compartmentalized for different purposes. It’s all the sam...
Every day I look through photos I have taken and write about one. This forces me to think about photography. This helps me to remember why I do what I do.
Writing is disciplined thinking. It’s thinking that’s thought through.
Photography is disciplined perception. It’s seeing well-managed.
When I look at a person during the course of a normal day I see but fleeting glimpses of them. I don’t stare and I don’t analyze. I see them, but I don’t really see them.
When I do a portrait, or what some people might call a headshot, I see much deeper. But I don’t just see, I feel. The camera provides an excuse for spending enough time with someone to achieve some level of intimacy. I get to say “Look at me.”, and the person looks.
Even when I’m doing dozens of portraits under time constraints (like the one of Sam above at Twitter) I strive for a moment like this when something human, something timeless, emerges. This is not a person you can sum up in a Tweet. Few of us are. Our resumes and our profiles...