I have been a photographer for well over 30 years, but I never photographed people – they were way too scary… I was encouraged to change that about 5-6 years ago by some very close friends I made during the time I went back to university to do an M.A. in Spiritual Psychology. They encouraged me and requested (demanded, in fact!) that I photograph them, because they felt I had the necessary empathy to make them feel at ease in front of a camera.
Turns out they were right…
Oh, and if you think my Spiritual Psychology degree has turned this Australian male engineer Atheist into something a bit woo-woo, you would be mistaken. While I freely admit that those two years were the best and most rewarding of my life, I am not singing Kum-Ba-Ya anytime soon 🙂
I do two very different styles of human photography: The first is what I call Essence Portraiture, and second is in recognition of the beauty of the human form – Bodyscapes. These are abstracted, cryptic and sometimes sensual views of the very thing that we all share – a body. I come from Australia, and also lived for 13+ years in Europe, where nudity is far less taboo than it is here in the US. If you are at all offended by nudity, you might do yourself a favor and ignore the section on Bodyscapes….
Most professional portrait photographers are akin to film directors. They will look at a subject and decide an angle, a pose, a scenario, lighting and a mood, and direct their subject through all of those aspects, capturing the resultant image. It is a proven method that works exceedingly well, and is exactly how I *don’t* do portraiture….
I do not have the skillset to be a director, and I use a totally different technique….
I create a sacred and safe place where my subject can be whoever they want to be. In any way, shape or form. It takes great courage to be that vulnerable, and when we are, when we are being completely *real*, that is when our Essence is exposed. And everyone’s Essence is beautiful. Everyone’s… In order to put someone completely at ease, I employ every ounce of Empathy in my being to every one of my subjects. It is hard to explain, but I try to walk a few miles in their shoes, and function accordingly. It can mean me being a joker, a shoulder, a debater, a father, a brother, a colleague, or even an experienced photographer! I nurture people to get to a place they *want* to be, and I capture the magical moments when they get there. The differences between my portraiture and others’ is often very subtle, but usually tangible.
Interestingly, I have no attachment to the resultant images. None. For me it is all about the process. I never feel any pressure to produce exquisite images of my subjects, and yet strangely enough, I seem to always manage to create photographs that my subjects and clients are delighted with.
This may all sound a little weird and pompous, and perhaps it is. But I am ecstatic at how nearly every person I have photographed, be they a complete novice in front of a camera to an experienced model or celebrity mentions it is the very best experience they have had being photographed. That’s cool….and hey, if you don’t believe me, read some of their testimonials! 🙂
Wait, what? It’s human, right? Or is it? I think so. Or maybe not. Or 3 humans? Is that a knee? A hip? A boob? Welcome to one of my favorite things to create – Bodyscapes! So much fun, and they can be very easy to create. One thing that this type of imagery exposes – we are *ALL* beautiful….
My bodyscapes tend to come in two styles: Full Figure and Cropped Abstracts.
These are homage to the beautiful human form, which we all possess. Different shapes, sizes, colors, complexions, ages, genders. They generally invoke dramatic lighting to create shadows. The shadows then in turn produce mystery, sensuality, femininity, masculinity, intrigue. There is an old adage in photography – if you want to make something look interesting, don’t show all of it…
I have always loved solving puzzles – having to really think about a solution. So I love to create images that are most definitely human, but may not be immediately recognizable as such. Cropped, dramatically lit, twisted, contorted, distorted – whatever. A human figure is a limitless canvas of opportunity
This style of photography can be as simple as a single directed light source and a willing model. The only limit is imagination….