Jeremy stopped by my home to print some of his photographs. I had seen him photographing the North Dakota Museum of Arts Autumn Auction; he did a great job. We talked via Facebook and a phone call. Jeremy had a few photos he wanted printed so I let him use my printer. We traded a few bits of our personal lives. Jeremy’s has depth. It was a good visit and he let me take his portrait. I haven’t taken a portrait since October. My camera hasn’t been used much as I seem to have had difficulty in creating my own personal work versus a paid/free gig.
When I work with a person, I like to talk and learn about them. I don’t necessarily pose them. Talking helps me study their body language; I pay attention to the way they normally ‘pose’. In my imagination, I have wild ideas of how I’d prefer the lighting and captured moment. I still have difficulty bridging the imaginary and real. Perhaps that is an issue with my level of confidence. I certainly don’t want to make a subject uncomfortable.
It isn’t a matter of one of these similar images succeeding (or both failing) the other but rather how a slight change can alter the feeling of a photograph. I worked with one strobe, a backdrop and a stool; I wanted simplicity. I wanted the posing simple so that I could focus on Jeremy.
Although similar in design, the difference is the space between each shot, our conversation, him lowering his arms then recrossing them, or my partner entering the room. During our twenty minute conversation, I’d get absorbed in a topic and pause the session.
That pause is critical because I have an opportunity to catch a subject off guard. The simple lighting contributed to the quickness of the session. I could adjust the height and angle without moving away from him. All elements contribute to each press of the shutter. Also note that building some type of relationship with the subject is important. I barely knew Jeremy and felt like I had just enough to make something. Thankfully we will be visiting more in the future, which will allow me to create a stronger portrait.
These things are what I believe makes a stronger portrait. Each photograph is more about the person than the photographer.