What do you see when you look at a photograph? Let’s say it’s a portrait of some sort. Do you see the person in the image? Do you look at the lighting? Do you go instantly to the catch-lights in the eyes? The crop? The processing? The color?… what do you see? Obviously we’re all going to be drawn to something different in an image. That’s one of the beautiful things about photography, it’s all very subjective. What someone sees and takes from one image may be something completely different than what someone else sees and takes away. Isn’t that wonderful? But how much thought do you put into what it took to make that image? I want to talk to you about something I’m sure very little people ever see or think about… the people behind the scenes….
With a lot of my work I am frequently working with makeup artists, hair stylists and clothing stylists (and other creatives). I have been extremely lucky throughout my career to work with pretty well only amazing people… and what I mean by that is that as people, human beings, they are amazing people. Yes, they are incredibly talented, but overall they’ve all had extremely wonderful personalities. Sure, I’ve worked with a few not so wonderful personalities but those are generally only a one time thing as I don’t usually work with those people again (which is my choice). Personality is something that is over looked far too often when people consider who to work with and I can tell you from experience, personality makes a HUGE difference.
This blog is inspired from a shoot I had over the weekend. I was working with a relatively new model, who is quite young, and is self-described as “shy”. Part of my job as a photographer is to connect with the people I work with and make them feel comfortable in front of the camera, as quickly as possible. I pride myself in being able to do that. So for this particular shoot, the model showed up and myself and the team were already there (mua: Nicola Jefferis and clothing stylist: Sarah Duquette). From the very start the energy was high and Nicola and Sarah did most of the interacting with the model while the prep was going on, I came by and chatted a bit as well (I was busy setting up lighting and such). Because of their personalities (which are both fairly outgoing) the model was comfortable and much less shy once she got in front of my camera. I try to take as much time as I can before a shoot to sit and chat with the person I’m photographing, but depending on the shoot, there are times when I don’t have that luxury.
At one point during the shoot I said to the model “I thought you said you were shy”, to which she replied “I am, I don’t know what’s going on today!”. I laughed, but I knew exactly what was going on. Nicola and Sarah treated the model as one of them. They joked with her, included her in the conversation, and encouraged her to contribute. They weren’t consciously doing this (I don’t think) it’s just the nature of their personalities. And while I’m using a specific shoot as an example, I would say 99% of my shoots go this way.
And that is why I am always sure to surround myself with wonderful people with amazing personalities. If it wasn’t for Nicola and Sarah, it would have taken me much more time to get the model comfortable. We shot 3 different looks and from the first look the model was wonderful. Had it not been for the atmosphere created by Nicola and Sarah, it may not have been until the 2nd look that the model was comfortable.
While talent is obviously extremely important in the industry, personality is something I always look for. To say we have fun during my shoots may actually be an understatement, we have an absolute blast. I have been lucky to become friends with almost everyone I have worked with(quite good friends with some) and the relationships I have established through photography are ones that I cherish very much.
The images you create are a direct reflection of the people you work with, every single person. Surround yourself with positive, outgoing people and your work will only improve.
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