Photographing people, isn’t just sitting someone down in front of a camera and taking hundreds of shots, not to me it isn’t.
People I meet for the first time when they come to the studio, get offered a drink and then just sit and chat for a while. Finding out about people gives an insight into what they do, where they come from, what their views are and what their looking for. Doing this makes studio canvas come alive with them in it, with thought on what’s been spoken about and carry’s on through the shoot.
Emotion is everything and comes through when you communicate and gets driven into the image thats created. You have to look at the person, and look into their eyes, because the eyes are everything to expression. My camera technique is “push button focus’, I focus the camera on the eyes and then move the camera to make the composition, that way I know the eyes are sharp in every image.
They say the eyes are the window to ones soul, they don’t lie and tell how the person is feeling, whether they are happy or sad, angry or just frustrated, they are everything and anything.
It took me some time to working this out. I looked at old work and recent work, and every time, what I see the most is the eyes. I can see where my mistakes were and what made them bad images, most of it was the fact that the eyes wasn’t in focus and ruined the image. Back at the beginning I was a thinking of lighting and composition, and taking loads of images that many just looked the same. I ask myself why did I do that? I wasn’t recognising what was going wrong I was just taking shots and hoping something would look good.
Then one day I did a shoot as part of my degree and in my final year of uni. We had 15 minutes to get to know the person and take portrait images they would end up using as part of their portfolio.
They were drama students and looked to us to capture the essence of them that would tell their story of why they want to become actors. Each student was paired up with two photographers to photograph them within time limit. I was the second photographer to photograph this guy, and I asked the other photographer to show me quickly what they had done with them, why, because I didn’t want to do the same shots. All we had was one soft box to work with, and it was down to us to decide on lens and shots to be taken.
This drama student, was black and had his hair short and a little bit of stubble on the chin, but he had theses amazing bright eyes. I decided on a 35mm prime lens and asked him to look into the reflector and look slightly upwards, and took the shot. I looked on the back of the camera and I loved it, then I showed the student. He said “you have captured everything that is about me in one shot”. From that moment I understood what he meant, I had captured his soul.
Portraiture is a kind of art for me, its thinking what can be achieved, which for the most part is the person and for them to see something in it, which they can related to. There are some amazing portrait photographers out there who have their unique style, its hard to fine your own, but if you think about the face, the look, the style and end image, before you meet the person, then your not wasting time and effort.