Over the years, I appeared in many bad and goofy portraits during the awkward stages of childhood, like many of us. Then magically, one day you get a good one taken of you. It's a moment of confidence that can be transforming. Some people are naturals, some are shy and need a little coaxing, while others are downright camera-phobic. We have a photo album of my wifes Aunt holding books, birthday presents, and other handy objects in front of her face. I have made it a life long goal to catch her off guard and get a great photo of her.
When going to school for Photography, we had portrait classes where we were taught lighting and posing. We all photographed each other profusely but sometimes models were brought in. Whoa! What a moment of discovery when you first work with someone whose job is to be in front of the camera. They tend to make it easier than making your roommates and classmates look like models. That being said, most of us had great memorable images taken of us by our peers in school.
Once I embarked on my own photographic career, it was in the corporate world, and portraits were initially needed for ID badges, or articles and newsletters requiring a simple head shot. Later, I started taking themed portraits of our CEO for Boxey, the Black Box Monthly newsletter which was basically a small magazine. We propped and posed him as iconic historical figures like Thomas Edison and General Douglas MacArthur . It was a lot of fun and it stretched portraiture beyond it's basic essence. We would also take executive portraits in board rooms and offices.
Having been involved in more product oriented photography than anything for many years, I photographed people with less frequency and turned down many opportunities to take portraits of people. I thought it would be boring and unrewarding. We went on a mission trip to Guatemala in 2007 and I had the distinct opportunity to meet and photograph the people of that poor country as we provided medical and spiritual assistance. Aside from the deep meaningful nature of that trip, it ignited something in me... passion for making images of people. Images that had meaning, or captured their personalities, or showed their plight, or thankfulness, or conveyed something else to the viewer. I will cover that amazing journey in an upcoming article.