Comfort Zone

Over the past few months, I’ve begun to realize how much I really love taking photos of people. Taking a photo of someone I know well makes the whole process incredibly easy, as they’re already relaxed. I’ve also realized that street photography (think candid moments of total strangers) terrifies the hell out of me. I’ve been working on it with some of my smaller point and shoots, and occasionally my medium format cameras, but the whole thing is a little nerve wracking.

Shot with the Bronica ETRsi, Sunny 16, self developed and scanned. Fuji PRO400H

Shot with the Bronica ETRsi, Sunny 16, self developed and scanned. Fuji PRO400H

Street photography requires quick actions to capture the moment, and typically the image becomes more powerful when the subject of the photograph is in some way interacting with you.

But, I’m an introvert, so interacting with total strangers is an absolute no-no for me. I’d much rather just sit back and wait for something to unfold in front of me. As I think shows in the photo below, it works sometimes.

Just sat and waited. Canon Sure Shot. Kodak Portra 400.

Just sat and waited. Canon Sure Shot. Kodak Portra 400.

Another personality trait that I so graciously acquired, perfectionism. I hate failure, so if I don’t think I’ll succeed fully at something, I might quit at it halfway through just to avoid that failure. I’ve written about failure before, and also the benefits of recognizing those failures.

Performing in Madison, WI. Canon Sure Shot. Kodak Portra 400.

Performing in Madison, WI. Canon Sure Shot. Kodak Portra 400.

So to stick with the spirit of failing and pushing my personal boundaries, I’m going to give myself a challenge for the next thirty days. Take one portrait, of one stranger, each and every day. Just the thought of it makes me uncomfortable, which is exactly the reason I should, and need to do this. I’ve done weird little personal projects from time to time, but never anything so far out of my comfort zone.

It starts today, so expect to see another blog post pertaining to this one in about a month and a half. Until then, enjoy some more random photos :)

Canon Sure Shot. Kodak Portra 400.

Canon Sure Shot. Kodak Portra 400.

Canon Sure Shot. Kodak Portra 400.

Canon Sure Shot. Kodak Portra 400.

Canon Sure Shot. Kodak Portra 400.

Canon Sure Shot. Kodak Portra 400.

Say cheese!

In the world of portrait photography, getting a genuine smile out of someone is the most sought after moment. Capturing that moment can be incredibly hard, because most of the time, it ends up being forced. Photographers who shoot lifestyle portraits tend to let the scene play out between subjects (families, individuals, etc.), aiming to capture the moments in between direction. On the contrary, fashion photographers that have had years of practice to know how to twist, turn, and tilt their models to look as flattering as possible. Ordinary people typically don’t know how to pose, but they know how to force a smile.

Most of us grew up hearing the phrase “Say cheese!” And most times, all this accomplishes is something between the look of a nut cracker’s painted face, and a child meeting their favorite character at Disney World. It also doesn’t help that most people, if any, don’t actually like having their picture taken. I can’t stand it, so I understand when other people don’t either. When I’m taking pictures, I try and fall in the middle somewhere between lifestyle and fashion photography, certainly leaning towards the more relaxed flow of lifestyle.

Posing is a topic I’ll discuss in length, but on another day. What I’m after, for the most part, is to capture the small details that come with everyone’s own personal smile. My favorite smile is the one that follows a big laugh. Why the laugh occurred in the first place doesn’t matter. Whether it’s from a cracked joke, a failed attempt to look serious, or some other goofy situation developing nearby; all that matters is that for one split second, something made my subject happy enough for their real smile to shine through.

One thing that I’ve found helps tremendously is having my client bringing friends. I’m not talking the entire class of 2019, but two or three close friends that can make the person being photographed smile with just a look. A one on one session is incredibly awkward, so what better to loosen someone up than having their best friends with them?

Something I hope my clientele will come to expect from me is a relaxed, organic session. Having your photo taken doesn’t need to be a stressful, awkward situation. Bring your friends, don’t be afraid to be yourself, and lastly, let’s make this as fun of an experience as possible.