Focus on Portraits
With all these cameras around making picture taking so easy and automatic, why on earth would anyone hire a professional photographer to take their picture? Well, sometimes I don't know. I'm a big fan of the much-reviled snapshot. I think snapshots are great. They show people in the midst of their lives, surrounded by family and friends, often in poses that reveal a lot about the relationships involved.
But they do leave a lot to be desired in some areas. For one thing, the optics of most snapshot cameras aren't as good as they could be, nor do most people choose the best film. On camera flash is horrible lighting, and facing into the sun on bright days, which is the usual choice for snapshot portraits, is even worse.
So, while snapshots are great as social documents, they usually aren't very well lit, or posed, or exposed. Automatic exposure, even when "correct" is frequently wrong. So there are very good reasons for hiring a professional to make a portrait after all. But not at most mall shops where they sit you in front of some prearranged background with a standard "portrait" lighting, and, using a very mediocre film (to help hide flaws) manage to make everyone look pretty much the same. We may all have basically the same genetic code in our DNA, but we do not all look the same.
A portrait is an image of a particular human being. I'm not going to pretend that I, or any other photographer can grasp and express the full being of another human being in a photograph. But we can show something particular about a person, and we should. And we can make them look good, or a lot better, or terrific.
Let's assume that you have a reason for getting a portrait made. What should you consider when deciding how to go about it?
First of all, consider who this portrait is for.
  • Is it for family members?
  • To commemorate some event in your life?
  • Is it for business associates?
  • Are you running for public office?
  • Do you want a portrait of you similar to one of your great-grandfather?
  • Is it a present to yourself?
Whatever reason you have for doing the portrait, you need a photographer sensitive to your goal. Someone who can explain how to achieve that goal.
You must be able to share any concerns you might have about your appearance. Almost everyone Iıve ever photographed has some flaw they want to hide. Some imperfection which has plagued them since childhood, and which theyıve developed intricate strategies to hide or disguise.
At least 80% of the time, these flaws are so tiny, so insignificant, that no one notices them. Often these "flaws" contribute to, rather than subtract from the personıs beauty, uniqueness, and character. If you absolutely need this "flaw" hidden, I can usually hide it. The crucial matter is your sharing your concerns and desires for the portrait with me and my sharing my strategy for achieving those goals with you.
Remember, photographs last a long time. I have clients with family albums capturing five or six generations, back to the origins of photography. Perhaps those early photo clients had a much better appreciation of the longevity of their portraits than some of my clients today. Whatever else they were thinking about, those long-ago subjects were considering the generations of their descendants who would know them, at least partly, through the photograph.
In this way, as in many others, photography is an egalitarian art. Before photography, only the rich and powerful could decorate their halls with family portraits. Now we all do it, and we donıt even think about it.
Feel free to contact me with any questions.