My Way ...

Chi trova un amico trova un tesoro.

Usually, when I head out to a photo-shoot, it's a new location, new people, new light.

Most times, nothing is known or certain ... it's a new beginning. 

I don't use lights, I demand nothing from people.  I don't have a routine. 

Each person, each family, each event is like an individual fingerprint and so I can't ask for the same thing.

I want them to be as they are, wear what they love, and I like it if they can take me to their favourite place.

Sometimes I check in to see if this way of working scares me.  But it doesn't.  It seems to be the thing I love doing best, that attempt to capture people as they are. 

And anyway, I get to meet people like Steven and Isabel and that ... that is treasure, to be sure.

Translation: He who finds a friend, finds a treasure.

Portrait Photography

Above all, life for a photographer cannot be a matter of indifference.

Robert Frank.

I love portrait photography. 

I enjoy people intensely and I think that informs the work that I do.  

My intention is always to show the person just how beautiful they really are ... without Photoshop.  No intervention required.  Really, show me something of your true self, something of your soul ... trust me, and I'll show you you. 

Not that those words are ever stated.  And as a photographer you need permeable boundaries on your own self.  It's good if you're gentle.  Be willing to show some of your soul too. 

Portrait photography, at it's best, is an exchange.  And it's about trust. 

I met a remarkable woman yesterday and I can't wait to write of her work here.  More to follow, just as soon as her website is up. 

Photographing People

I've been preparing for the photography workshop in Genova, thinking about all the things I know ... and finding stuff I didn't realise I knew.

When I make notes on portraiture, I include words like Trust and Respect.  Empathy.  Patience.  Engagement. Authenticity.

And it's not about acting or demanding or insisting.

People, when they're being photographed, are often fragile. They feel broken open, exposed, vulnerable.

You're asking them to show a little of their souls, to give you themselves in a relaxed state of being.

People often tell me they photograph badly but no, I think no one 'photographs badly'. I have this theory that it is a failure on the part of the photographer, to relax their client.  To engage.  To earn their trust.

When I work on a portrait shoot, I am almost skinless.  I don't want to be the boss, to be in control, to demand this expression, that pose, this place.

I want to go someplace my client loves.  A space where they can relax and feel comfortable.  I want to talk, and maybe walk a little.  I want to know who they are and how they want to be perceived.   I want to discover and capture their best selves.  The self they know and recognise. 

Sometimes, if it's a family portrait, I have asked the mum for a follow-up shoot alone because when you're a mum and a wife on a family shoot, you can miss out on being you.  Your own private individual you ... before you took on all those roles.

And it works.  I have photographed some beautiful strong confident women when they're off-duty as everything else.

Kids are something else again.  You need to engage, it needs to be fun, you need to be real.  They will know.  Bubbles have saved many a shoot when a child has grown bored or tired. 

Portraiture is all about a lot of things ... and then relaxing and enjoying that time spent together.  It's about gifting someone the beautiful things in them, and everyone has something. 

A Portrait, with that Inquisitive Chicken

There was a huge amount of squawking and hysteria out in the chicken coop this morning ...

Immediate investigation by the Australian bloke revealed the Ms Inquisitive Chicken had climbed the ladder to the first floor and was completely ignoring her Rooster bloke's demands that she come down.

She spent some time up there and at the time of removal, was busy admiring herself in a mirror she'd found. 

The lovely American risked life and limb ... well, attack by said rooster, and brought her back to the yard.  Here they are, posing together.

Portraiture II

This shot was taken out in the cobblestone yard of the big old house in Wallonia.  The white background came courtesy of an old wooden barn door and the hat was a treasure recently found by Alysha at the Waterloo Market.

She used cosmetics on her eyes but that was it.  What the light did with her skin, was nothing short of miraculous.  I was stunned, once again, by the magic of eyes.

We had such fun.  I'll put up a gallery of this shoot, and the shoot with that lovely Australian bloke, soon.

Portraiture and I

One of the wildcards, in terms of my photography, is that I have no set way of doing things ... there is no structure or formula. 

Each person ... each portrait shoot, is a new journey.  A setting off into the unknown

Sometimes I think about being terrified in these unfamilar settings, working in unknown or ever-changing light, with a person who may or may not trust me in my attempt at capturing them.  But then I remember ... this is the space where the magic happens.

And so it was with the American ...


Barter and Exchange ...

I was taking some photographs the other day.  There's a growing number of people, appearing in my world, who are happy to work with me in exchange for photography.

Tis grand ...!

I was 'on location' last Friday when I felt eyes upon me and I looked down, finding this cuter than cute little bundle of laughter and mischief.