Like a lot of filmmakers, I also spend time doing still photography. Unlike a lot of photographers, I love taking pictures of people, not just buildings or landscapes. I love taking photos of all kinds of people, almost always using natural light. Sometimes I take photo gigs for pay, and it’s always a rewarding experience. Today was one of those days.
All of a sudden in the middle of a shoot, I realized a truth: as a photographer you’re in every picture you take.
This is true on a physical level, as your image will show up in the subject’s eye when you shoot closeups. And it’s true on a deeper, less tangible level, too.
What I mean is, your vibe- your energy- will reflect back at you when you’re shooting. If you’re having a bad day and putting that out into the universe, you’ll see it in your photos, in the subject’s face, somehow. It’s subtle, but it’s there. If you’re having a great time, enjoying the process, and enjoying the person you’re shooting, well, that comes back to you in the photo, too.
When I shoot somebody, I feel incredibly privileged. I know that I’m asking them to let me in, and that can be a very intimate thing. When I get the chance to see someone with their guard down, being themselves instead of putting on the masks we all must wear to protect ourselves, it’s a beautiful, honest moment.
That’s what I am trying to capture. And it requires that I, as the photographer, also let my subject in. I must be as completely vulnerable, open, and alive, as the person whose image I am capturing. Because that’s when the good stuff happens.