Thursday, May 5, 2011

Beyond the pose

We all strive to make an image that speaks to the heart of our subject.  Everyone we photograph has something deep inside them that is precious to them.  That place inside their heart, inside their spirit is where the most effectual, meaningful portrait originates, beyond the pose. 

I've read a number of books on posing senior students, families, individuals.  I've learned about the S curves, the lines that end at a single point, the feminine and masculine arm positions, but I haven't read much about how to get inside your client.  One of the best ways to get inside your client is to let the client inside yourself.

In a recent senior shoot I was able to learn so much about my wonderful, young subject by going slow, telling them some stories about myself, making a quick explanation about why I walk with a limp and seem to move carefully.  I'm getting closer and closer to becoming bionic.  I watched for small facial indications that I was connecting. 

I tried to get the client involved in the shoot by asking why his favorite things had become important.  And I listened.  From time to time I sat down for a moment to discuss my ideas for the next shot and asked for the young clients opinion and input.  He was an active participant in the shoot.  I think the pictures were much better because of that time taken to get to know this wonderful kid and they are all wonderful in their different ways. 

One thing I've learned as a teacher and a youth pastor is that listening to a kid is far more important than talking "at" a kid.  Even their questions reveal so much.  The way they ask questions and the type of questions they ask tell you if they are confident, if they are buying what is happening in the shoot and if their goal has been discovered by you the photographer. 

It's not so much about F-stops, lenses and magnificent equipment.  I've seen magnificent pictures taken with ancient brownie cameras... by photographers who understood the mystery inside their subject. 

Take the time to talk to your client... really talk.  Develop an on the spot friendship if you can so that in some way truth can pass between the two of you and impress itself into the portrait. 

No comments:

Post a Comment