The best portraits are the ones that capture the very essence of the person. A portrait must always bring out the best features of the individual and this is always the main challenge for photographers like me.
In the 20 years I’ve been in the business of photography, I’ve had a fair share of portraits that my clients ask me to do. I enjoy shooting portraits because it’s not just about completing the shot and getting the job done. Doing portraits is more of building a closer relationship with the client because I try to highlight a certain facet of their lives.
As you may hear from most photographers, you would want to find at least an element in the portrait that gives you a clue on the subject’s personality. It’s not just the smile or the frown that you want to capture. Some photographers would say that the eyes of a subject tell the whole story, as the saying goes. Capturing the moment where the eyes reveal the personality of the subject can be quite tricky because you would have to wait for that moment to come.
I guess this is what separates veteran photographers from the relatively new ones. There’s no other way for the photographer’s eye to be trained other than doing shoots himself for a period of time. Indeed, experience is the best teacher, and for us photographers, experience is the most credible teacher we have. Experience guides us as we make portraits, among other photos.
Just the same, portraits are a good medium to showcase a subject’s experience. Aside from the personality of the subject, experience is something that is tough to capture. But when you do capture the experience of a person in a portrait, the picture will surely move mountains, so to speak. The lines of a person’s face tell a story, as much as their eyes tell a tale of their own. It’s up for the photographer to catch that moment when their subject reveals a part of themselves to you.
To a certain extent, the photographer must be sensitive when facing such an issue. As a photographer, I make sure I am not too intrusive or overenthusiastic in drawing out the personality or experience of a subject. These traits are close to the subject’s heart and the last thing we want to do is to agitate them and make the shoot difficult, not to mention traumatic for the person.
The best portraits are also about capturing moments. Happiness for instance is a relative term. You may be very happy at one point, but you can be extremely happy at another and these kinds of changes aren’t usually captured or immortalized right there and then. Again, it is up to the photographer shooting the portrait to try and let the subject relive a part of that experience to be able to capture that moment again and frame it in a picture for the subject to see for himself or herself.
Just as what I’ve been explaining in the other pages, I believe that a photographer must be able to connect with the subject so as to make the portrait, or any project, a success.