Monday, November 29, 2010

Making Portraits

Did a lovely studio portrait shoot on Sunday night, for my friends Richard Allen and Karen Pearlman of the Physical TV Company. We've known each other for the past 20 years and have done occasional collaborations in a variety of creative media. Karen needed a head-shot for publication in an upcoming edition of Reel-Time "Australia's Critical Guide to Contemporary Performing Arts". (...more about that in a later post.)

Portrait shoots can be challenging, because creating a good image is so dependent on the interaction between the photographer and the person - the trick being your ability to communicate effectively and to direct without being intrusive on the subject's process - all the while keeping your head across all the technical aspects of the sophisticated machinery you are driving - lights, camera, action! - It's quite a skill!

It was also quite interesting with these two, because although they are both professional dancers and teachers and film-makers and choreographers of many years experience - they still both expressed how difficult it can feel to find themselves in front of a stills camera... so it kind of got it across to me that if these two are at all disquieted about the idea, then why would I expect anyone to be comfortable about being photographed?! I might as well just accept that fact and learn to work it to everyone's advantage... Knowing that most people feel that a camera is a magic black box that will steal their soul goes a long way to beginning to understand how to approach portrait sessions and how to work with and allay the fears and reactions it can bring up. Seeing the shoot as a collaboration between the sitter and the photographer, in which both people create the image is a vital distinction. To affirm that a photograph is to be made, not 'taken' is a subtle but definite distinction that changes everything in the attitude and intention within a shoot. It got me thinking once again, that the real heart of photography is about communication, respect and trust.

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