It's the time of year that I start booking summer portraits. I've had a portrait "season" for about 15 years now. So much has changed in the time frame with me and with the business of photography. Ny first ten years in photography was spent trying to learn how to use the camera in a creative way and this pursuit led me into the world of band photography and album art. I didn't really start doing portraits professionally until after I got my photography degree. At that time there was about five portrait/wedding photographers here in town and not many more in the county. But as high end photography gear got more economically viable and digital editing became a much easier thing to accomplish due to effect plug-ins, the number of people calling themselves photographers went through the ceiling. The effect of so many folks entering the market has driven down the fees of photographers and more than that it has changed the way that many folks see photographs. The current trend is heavy on the editing and colors have become very washed out. They often appear more like an advertisement than a family. But I can't help but wonder how this look will wear with time. I remember in the 70's that double exposure was often used at weddings with the bride super-imposed in the corner opposite the groom. Usually a candle was involved. Now these photographs are snickered at. Now, I'm not implying that the current popular "look" is destined for a future of jokes but every trend in "style" does always have a shelf life. After trying a few times to get the plug-in look I had the realization that in order to maintain a fresh look I just needed to focus on making my photographs as good as they could be with as little editing as possible. I think the straighter the photograph the better chance it has of becoming "timeless".
What I enjoy about doing portraits is the importance of it. While it may seem like a pretty picture of loved ones it has a historical context within the framework of a family that adds another level of depth. My goal is not just to take pretty picture but also to capture some element of a persons personality that will help the photograph transcend it's background or the outfits folks are wearing. Photography through time has always been mainly about keeping a memory. I want that memory to hopefully say something about the person and sometimes that thing is unseen outside of the people close to that person. I've found that the photographs between the smile and say cheese shots are often the strongest in this respect. Of course I have to get those shots as well but more often than not people comment years later not on the posed shots but the photographs where the kids are cutting up.
The photo above is a good example of subtle personality in a photograph. I didn't realize when I shot the photo that the boy's shoelaces were untied and later while editing i was talking to the mother and I was actually worried about it. "Oh, he never ties his shoes", she said. Years later she told me that it was her favorite photograph of him. " He ties his shoes now" she said with a sad look on her face. I thought that I had messed up at the time and instead I was able to deliver something important and valuable to her memories. Lesson learned and not to be forgotten. I've been thinking about writing this blog for awhile and more than it being informative for clients it was something that I needed to cement into my own mind by putting it out there in a public way. Every so often I have to rededicate myself to my craft and have an idea on how to proceed and market. I will always experiment and be playful when attempting portraits but I want to rededicate my self to looking at the portrait as more than just smiling folks looking at the camera. I have clients that I currently use a journalistic approach with. We often photograph at their homes and capture real events instead of creating an event or doing things that they never do outside of having the their picture taken. I hope more people will be interested in the idea. I'm very open to projects and or events as vehicles for a "shoot". Well...I think I'm done here...I appreciate you taking your time to hear my thoughts. I'm looking forward to my summer shoots. Let's talk! I'm booking now! Also all fees include ownership of files and no silly rules about my photos having to have my name water marked across them when displayed on social media.