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Authentic Portraits – Jay

Jay Ahrend, photographer and all around good guy. © Martin Trailer

This is the first of a series of blog posts about portraits depicting interesting people, be it faces, their work or general character of the individual.  Portraits can be shot informally on the fly or full blown productions outside or in a studio and everything in between.

Portraits are made from both a point of view and with a point of view.  If the client is the subject, then the client will likely want the best of their assets highlighted.  The case of a business portrait, the client being a business entity, would want the subject looking good, but also reflecting the professionalism and brand of the business.  Editorial portraits will illustrate the subject, but also tie photograph to the story.  Unconnected generic editorial portraits typically look out of place and have the potential of undermining the credibility of the story and publication.

Jay Ahrend with his favorite hat. © Martin Trailer

Anyone can photograph a person, but the style, essence, comfort and situation of the person illustrated in the final photograph takes time, time to develop a safe space for the subject being photographed. Without the safe space, it is unlikely they will allow their emotion or personality to come through so the viewer feels connected to the person. When photographing people, creating a safe space for the subject being photographed is a learned skill.  It is not something that is learned quickly, but developed over time and practiced countless times.  It is one of the skills that separates both photographs and photographers from good enough, to illustrative and knowing what needs to happen to consistently make a photograph that connects to the viewer.

As with any endeavor, knowledge, practice and perseverance will prevail.  With enough practice and focusing on the ends, as with any pursuit, you too can get the connectable images. For those familiar with the theory of “10,000 hours” understand it takes time to develop any skill set.

Getting to the connected look and feel is my style of work where part of the personality comes through and convinces the viewer of the sincerity of the person portrayed.  The complexity of each of us, serious, sad, mad, happy, on and on in the final photograph is what clients expect.

Stay tuned.

Comments welcome.


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