FACE: what I see when I photograph a portrait…
Some background on how this image happened. I recently attended an all day photo seminar and on one of my breaks I met, Kofi. A striking gentleman who owns a LA based mobile coffee stand Coffee by Kofi. I saw him as I walked by his coffee stand, took a few more steps, and then stopped in my tracks and thought “Wait”! Immediately I turned around, introduced myself and asked if I could take his photo at his coffee station. With a big smile, he said Yes! So I grabbed my iPhone 4s (I know, it’s what I had on me and I wasn’t going to miss this) and positioned him under what lighting was available. I took two shots, we exchanged information and that was it.
Ok, I did two shots. Some may consider that risky but I know every working photographer is put under many circumstances that you simply have to make the best of. Granted this was an iPhone image so to my eye it was either going to work or not, and I made sure I had at least one shot. And this was the one!
The image you see posted isn’t at all what I had envisioned. In fact I saw something different, something more somber. After processing the photo, I started to watch the mood of the image take shape. It got me thinking about how much a photograph technically and emotionally shifts when doing any sort of post processing. Imagine seeing photos that haven’t been retouched? It becomes a different experience, right?
Whenever I have an intimate moment of photographing a portrait, whether I know the person or not, the comfort level between myself and the “subject” heightens to an interesting level. Hard to put my finger on it, but for the most part it involves TRUST. I did a photo shoot with Edward Colver this past summer and the one thing I found out after the shoot is that he has never seen my work. He said he didn’t have to and that he trusted me based on our conversation.
I feel as long as you have an engaging rapport with who you photograph this will dictate the mood of your portraits and set the direction of how the shoot will flow. It’s not always that easy, but by maintaining this connection you may capture a unexpected moment that becomes a memorable image. That for me is the beauty in photographing portraits. The anticipated unknown.