You may not know one of my favourite subjects to photograph are people. Don’t get me wrong…wildlife and landscapes are certainly up there…but theres something about photographing people that creates an emotional connection you just can’t get from a landscape or animal.
Some people are cringing right now at the thought of portrait photography. Unpacking the camera bag and pointing the lens in the general direction of their loved one to capture “the shot” may make them want to head for the hills (or Northam…sorry Merv)…not to mention weddings as the ultimate hill runner.
Personally I see the pursuit of the classic portrait as a challenge. Simply pointing the lens at a person and taking a photo is certainly the easy part anyone can do….for me the skill in portrait photography is capturing the emotion of an individual in a single frame. If you can manage to do that then portrait photography might be for you.
Thinking back, since I was a small boy (when I was young…. – ha!) I have always had a fascination with people. I would watch people and learn their idiosyncrasies by building up a mind map of their vastly different personalities in my head. To this day I still practice this by listening and engaging with as many people as I can possible talk to. Over the years my little mind map of humans has been an expansive blueprint into the emotions of an individual, so when it comes to connecting with the shutter on my camera I have a fair idea what I am wanting to portray emotionally within the final photograph.
Being able to read people and capture someone at their emotional peak is what I strive to achieve in my portrait photography. I’ll give you an example… if I am wanting to capture some candid shots at a wedding I simply listen to the conversations around me. A picture develops in my mind and I build up a profile of the people in the conversation. Then, having listened to the conversation I am able to anticipate a laugh or a smile and at that point my fingerprint is left of the shutter button. For me anticipating the emotional reaction of someone always leads to a great picture. I see way too may photographers running around chasing after a photo when the picture is actually painted right in front of them. They simply don’t listen…they are too busy looking for the photograph.
I would like to challenge all the photographers out there to find some emotional connection in the photographs they are capturing. If you aren’t looking to portray emotion within your art then you should really put the tools down and climb a tree. I’m sure Leonardo da Vinci thought about the emotions of his masterpieces before he picked up his paintbrush – so as artists we should do the same.
I want to share some recent photographs each day with you for the remainder of the month. The technical details and sharpness are not my main priority in photography anymore….for me capturing the emotion is my main focus and always has been. So sit back and enjoy the abundance of emotions coming your way.
So you don’t miss out on the emotional journey I will be posting five times daily for the rest of the month. Enjoy.
Until next time.