If you want to photograph a man spinning, give some thought to why he spins. Understanding for a photographer is as important as the equipment he uses. – Margaret Bourke-White
I found this quote while clearing out some stuff on a drive. I captured it ages ago and meant to blog it (apologies if I did that already somewhere).
The file is dated 2009. If there’s one thing that’s consistently struck home about photography in the last 6 years it’s summed up in this quote.
The Boy also managed to prove quite convincingly that you don’t need to smile-to-camera to engage with your viewer.
He did a lot of his ‘Strong Man’ act including ‘Hulk Smash’ (which is where we lost the shirt) but in the midst of all that playing he was utterly himself.
Oh to live in his world…
Most people know at this stage that I don’t do a lot of Studio work and there’s no permanent photography studio here.
I have the space and the equipment to put it together when I need it and sometimes it’s what a particular photo asssignment needs.
In my minds eye I had dance pics in an informal studio setting, I can’t find the reference (Leibovitz?) but the isolation of the backdrop focuses attention to the dancers but leaving the stands (and the lights even in some cases) in shot doesn’t constrain them to the environment I’ve created for them.
It’s almost like they’re so full of energy that they’ll burst out.
It’s also probably a bit of me pushing back against the falseness of the studio background. Leaving the stands in is like saying ‘lets not pretend that this isn’t something articfial’.
I love working with Dancers – they’re so aware of themselves and their form. And these are just kids – my kids too!!!
I finally got the kids into the Studio* in the last couple of weeks. The girls wanted to get some Dance photos after all the work they’ve put in over the last year (and who can resist taking photographs of dancers – especially when they’re your own kids). The Boy therefore also needed a session of his own, so he came in and threw some shapes for me.
I also got them to sit for some more traditional portraits while there were here. They are still very good for me in front of the camera but the problem tends to be that I know them too well: the smile isn’t that smile or if it is I know there’s another one I love in them just as much.
So I did a little more directing than I’d normally expect to do in a portrait shoot. Just to see how they would take more artistic direction and what reactions we could enduce for the camera.
We might have a handful of actors on on our hands!
In my daily Family Portrait business I deal with smiles. Really, that’s what people pay for. Even in the Commercial Photography arena we’re looking for that ‘Confident Business Smile’ which invokes a reaction of trust and confidence that a business person will look after you comewhatmay.
But in reality there is a whole world of human emotion that photography can capture – all valid, all compelling.
And sometimes people have a way of looking at you that cuts in to you…
*More on the ‘Studio’ later…