I want every person to just pop out of their photograph. I want you to feel as if you’re standing in front of them. I want to erase the barrier between what is seen and what is felt so that when you look at a photo you are filled with emotion. I want you to feel a person, not just see them.
To that end I ask you to look at me. To really look. You know when you’re a child and you’re arguing with your parents and they say “Look at me!” ? It’s that level of focus I ask though not in a condescending way.
When I was living in New York, and spending a lot of time in Manhattan, I learned how to break down barriers quickly so that a person would become an instant friend. They say you’re not supposed to look people in the eye on the streets, in order to avoid conflict, and that’s mostly true, but it also works in reverse. You can make friends by looking a person in the eye. So it becomes a case of discerning who is who.
When I do portraits, everybody is a friend. I arrive at each situation with so...
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 push a button, some light pours through the aperture and a moment in time is preserved. A moment as seen by the eyes of a visual being. You’re like a tourist and every other person an attraction of some kind. Something to be remembered. Each person is like a landmark that guides you toward a greater truth. These are not separate beings. You are not a separate being. And that’s the greatest secret.
It's not about taking a picture. Anyone can take a picture. The idea is to get that part of a person to open that's normally closed off. You don't do that with a camera. In fact, a camera is an impediment to that flow of energy necessary for a person to relax. So it's tricky. You do it with your heart. You do it with your presence. I don't want to sound all mystical and precious but you have to be a sort of shaman. And that means opening a channel between you - the photographer - and the person being photographed. You don't really do it consciously. It's not a switch you turn on, I don't b...