I know…I know…it’s been awhile since I’ve written anything in this space. Truth to be told, I only really post a blog when an idea hits me…and the time has come. So grab an ice cold glass of lemonade, and let’s talk about honesty in photographs.
First things first…I HATE posed photographs outside of a studio setting. Hate ‘em. Never liked them. And it’s not just because posing isn’t my strong suit…I’ve just always been of the mindset that life is filled with these little pockets of amazing moments and hardly any of them are staged…so why would you want all of your photos to be?
Secondly…lately we’ve had a large number of clients asking for “I saw this one shot you did of so & so’s family and I SO want that shot” or “just be creative…but I want it to have X, Y & Z” and my personal favorite…“I love what you do, but here’s how I want you to do it…oh, and I don’t want it to be posed.”
Ok, so let’s start at the beginning. While the basics of making a good picture involve intimate knowledge of exposure and composition and all that other boring stuff that no one besides photographers really cares about, making a good picture also involves knowing the client…knowing their personalities and just waiting for that side of them to present itself.
I can’t speak for other photographers, but I know that outside of a very basic roadmap prior to a shoot, I never know where a particular road is going to lead me until I’m on it. I love goofy outtake pictures…they’re some of my favorite things to throw into a shoot. For me, it’s about coaxing a long and sometimes forgotten side of a personality out. I’ll also use this technique to break tension at the beginning of a shoot…break down that wall that sometimes exists between my lens and my subject, who may not be comfortable having their photo taken. Sometimes it has stellar results, but I also know it’s not for everyone. And when it’s not in that person’s nature…forcing not only makes them incredibly uncomfortable, it has the EXACT opposite effect on the overall shoot I’m trying to make happen…so now, the actual shots we were hired to get are HARDER to achieve.
I am very lucky that I love what I do for a living. I’m also very lucky that people like our work enough to recommend us on a regular basis, and other people hire us because of it. But that is also a double-edged sword. Because high expectations are set in motion by the recommendation itself, it’s my job to then manage those expectations.
If someone says to me “I LOVE those shots…that’s what I want” – it’s my job to explain how shots like that happen, and while I will do everything in my power to give you what you want…it’s also important to understand that more of that comes from you and your family than it does from me. If we’re in the middle of a shoot and you’re stressing out because we haven’t been able to do this shot, or that shot…or your kids aren’t cooperating and it’s because they don’t want to do that shot…then chances are we’re not getting those shots because you’re trying to FORCE them to happen, rather than letting them come naturally.
If it’s against their nature to do X,Y & Z in front of a camera…me forcing it to happen will only result in bad images. BUT, if I figure out what X,Y & Z is in relation to YOUR family dynamic…then we’ll make beautiful photographs together that hopefully your family will treasure for eons. But the important thing is to understand that difference, and allow me to do what you hired me to do.
Art in any form is something that has to come on its own. While you can coax it to come out and play, it has to come on its own volition.
The camera lens sees everything you’re trying to show and everything you’re trying to hide. It can see when you’re happy…it can see when you’re sad. It can EASILY pick up when you’re nervous and trying to hide it through a clenched toothed smile.
But most importantly, and above all else. It can see when you’re being genuine, and when you’re not.
And THAT, ladies and gentleman is the KEY element…to making a good picture.