A Shutterbug’s Achilles Heel
I think I’ve posted enough photos on here to show what subjects I favor. Artwork is one of my favorites due to the immense amount of detail at play. Plant life of all sorts has a similar appeal. The color possibilities are tremendous when shooting outdoors; the weather doesn’t even have to be sunny. I’m becoming more comfortable with snapping photos of animals despite their being unpredictable and not always happy about facing a camera. Indoor and night photography are mixed bags but become more manageable.
With all that said, photographing people is HARD. Psychologically, I have a hard time focusing on the subject if it’s a person. As someone who is a detail freak, I feel rather uneasy focusing on a human subject. Is it secondhand self-consciousness? Is it an aversion to the softer light that skin tones demand? Is it the fear of being examined by the subject even though I’m behind the lens? I have no idea. All I know is it’s been a bit frightening for me to even contemplate portraiture.
Maybe it’s rooted in my ill-fated attempt at getting a job at Glamour Shots during my college years. That was a rough experience. My family thought I had solid photography skills and encouraged me to look into jobs at portrait studios. So when I found myself in need of employment, I decided to pursue this particular path. I can’t remember each step, but I recall sending two batches of photos involving human subjects. The first batch was dismissed as candids, but I was given an opportunity to present a second batch, this time conducting my own portrait session. I managed to get my aunt’s help in creating a very makeshift studio. I used a brand new bed sheet for a backdrop. My aunt ended up serving as my model for this impromptu portrait session. The results of this endeavor were a lukewarm reception and being handed some phone scripts to practice. They said if I was able to handle that I’d be considered for employment. At that point, I decided that my plate was full enough with five senior level courses and pursuing other job leads. Therefore, any potential photography career in that particular specialty was derailed.
I’ve been hesitant about shooting portraits since then. Time has allowed me the chance to contemplate portraiture and what I (dis)like about it. I find that I am of two minds about the concept. On the one hand, I feel a sense of disconnect from most of them because I know they’re posed/staged. I can feel it the instant I even glance at the frames. On the other hand, there have been a few portraits that have struck me with their unassuming tone and and natural feel. This photo and everything seen here are good examples of portraiture with a less rigid (but still polished) feel. I would like to achieve that balance with my photos of people. I’m just not sure what I need to do to get there. Since a lot of this is rooted in psychology, how much can a formal class help in this regard? If anyone has any input here, I’d love to hear/see it. Until then, photographing people will be my Achilles Heel.