I'm getting prepared to do a lighting workshop today at the studio, and this prompted me to reflect on the qualities we look for in a really fine portrait. What sets us apart from the garden-variety, ordinary, and every-day kind of photo? Did we nail the lighting? Are we building dynamic, interesting poses? It's all of this, but yet something more: we need to step over the barrier that exists between the photographer and the subject. We need to appreciate the inherent intimacy involved in creating the portrait, and that exploring this is what will allow the viewer to end up knowing more about that person than about the photographer. Simplicity and empathy are more effective tools than props and fast lenses to achieve something memorable; my goal is always to create the sort of image that through the years, people will always stop in their tracks to view it. I think this portrait that Whitney created recently is a wonderful example of that.
I took this portrait of my friend Monterey a few years ago, and have always loved the joy and spontaneity that she shares. These are what make a portrait truly timeless and beautiful, no matter who you are photographing or even what kind of camera equipment you have. Get close! Take your time! Listen, and observe. Every human on earth shines with a beauty that is there for you to find and reveal.
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If you'd like to see more images from Whitney's session, open this link to her blog: http://blissstudio.net/blog/?p=3870