Contrary to what one might think, the majority of my portraiture work occurs during two months in the fall; October and November. Photography, as with any other skill, requires regular practice to maintain one’s “edge.” This is especially true with outdoor portrait shoots which are stressful affairs dealing with so many variables; lighting, what is in the background and posing. The more things the photographer has to think about during the shoot, the greater the chance for mistakes, and mistakes are not fun.
After some consideration, I got the idea to offer a free portrait session to 50 people I know and I want the project to be completed by the end of 2011. While it seems like bad business for a portrait photographer to give away his services, since that may equate to lost sales, I believe the benefits of this project vastly outweighs the negatives.
There are some points that differentiate this from a normal portrait shoot that a client would normally want. One thing is I am in direct control of the location and the types of shots I will take. While I sincerely hope the models love their photos taken, that is not my primary concern. For most portrait shoots, clients look for a particular look or style, not necessarily whatever creative idea that bounces around in my pointy head. The purpose of this project is to stretch my thinking and my sensibilities to create images that I find satisfying. While this may sound a bit egocentric, it really isn’t my ego that is being fed, it is my muse. It forces me to think “outside the box” and thereby (hopefully) improve my photography overall.
It is my personal convection is that all people are interesting and have both a depth and a dignity which we often overlooked. It is important that I know each of the subjects since I want each photo to convey my thoughts about the person as well as the shoot.. That is not to say that my insight into people’s hearts and minds is that great, but as with any artistic expression, it is how I see it. One might argue the portraits I shoot may say more about me than the subjects themselves…I don’t know, but either way, enjoy the ride. It should be fun.