I was talking with a great friend last week, about this journey I have started, to pursue a career as a photographer, and what it is that fascinates me with portrait photography. The conversation sprang from a recent observation I have made, shooting models at various workshops in studio photography. The biggest challenge I have encountered, has been getting the models to stop flirting and looking sexy. I am looking for a more natural beautiful look, or different looks that tell a story.
I have also observed that most of the other photographers I walk around among, at these workshops, are men, often older men. Now this may be drawing the wrong conclusion, but I connect the models behaviour with this fact. They are used to posing for a male audience, who sees them as beautiful sex objects. I am by no means saying that this is always bad or wrong in any way, but it is a very different way to how I see the people I photograph, and how I wish to portray the people I photograph.
This observation let us to talk about what it is that differentiates me from other photographers, what it is that I need to emphasise when promoting my self as a photographer. The reason why people should choose me to shoot their portraits. My background in art, and my genuine interest in people and social dynamics, shine through the pictures I shoot. I want to tell stories, and paint paintings with my camera and my lens. There is a lot of great portrait photographers out there, and I am by no means claiming to be among the best of them – yet.
Not long ago I went on my first family-portrait assignment, in the family’s home, I felt nervous but prepared, I had talked with the family in advance, and given them a good price since the situation was new to me. It was such a nice and beautiful family, they were so sweet and welcoming, but the nerves got the better of me. I became too focused on not making them wait for me, on looking the part, and being efficient – the result was just not good enough. I need to learn to be relaxed and comfortable, even when people observe me working, I need to learn to allow myself the time necessary to set up, to test shoot, to check the results, and to get to know the people I am shooting. Fortunately for me, I will get a second chance to do the portraits, a chance to prove that I can do this, I can learn from my mistakes, and I can be a really good photographer.
It is a learning process, an interesting journey, a great experience – and I love every minute of it.