I am not one to do a large amount of portrait sessions. Its not that I don’t like it, its not that I don’t think I can do it, it is more that I have chosen not to pursue it. However, recently this has changed and I have taken a few opportunities to flex my portrait taking muscles.
The reality is that people know I am a photographer, and because of that I get asked on a fairly regular basis to take family portraits, photograph newborn babies, shoot weddings and or couples portraits – lifestyle photography is the best term I have heard for it. And I do it for two reasons; 1. I need to make an income 2. I want to help friends out who want photos. There was a time that I would have pshawwed (my made up word for that face you make when someone asks you a question that you think is stupid) the request of a portrait session, “No! I don’t do that! But I can, and I will.” Really, in essence, I was just being ridiculously “holier than thou who be-ist portrait photographers” and am embarrassed whenever I think back to this reaction. Beyond the fact that I look up to many photographers who can put themselves in the widely-overarching categories of portrait, wedding and/or lifestyle photography my thought process has been this; when I am photographing overseas, really, what I am doing is trying to get good portraits of the beneficiaries of whatever organization I am working for and backing them up with a few photos that are more photojournalistic in nature. So, I am taking portraits. Secondly, the only difference between the portraits I take here and the portraits I take overseas is that the portraits overseas have a story attached to them – and the photos are as much about the people in the photos as they are about the story itself. When doing a portrait session here in Canada, it is true that a story exists but I am not there to photograph the story, I am there to photograph the couple. Not that this is neither good nor bad, it just is. I love the idea of story, and without it I feel a bit lost – which may be the reason for the slight avoidance of portrait sessions. For me, good portraits draw the story out of the person or couple, or family, being photographed – without story, a large element of the image is missing.
I don’t know that I have ever posted photos from a couples portrait session on my blog, but I recently took photos of some good friends of mine and had a good time photographing it and editing the photos. The light was great, the colours were great, I tried some new things with my flash, it was enjoyable! As for the story, well, I said story is essential for me – which it is. I have known these two for a long time and the story lies within my head, a story that I hope is visible (even slightly) through these images.