I have always been torn by my love of taking people’s portraits. I love the collaboration involved and the opportunity to truly and openly look at another human being’s face, which in the real world we get very little opportunity to do. We are encouraged not to stare, yet properly looking at someone else’s face, is such a life-affirming experience. It can give you answers and it can raise questions. It can be both deeply unsettling and hugely inspirational at the same time. Above all else, to stop, be present, available and connected is such a powerful experience, with or without a camera.
These days when we are constantly manipulated by the media, at every turn and most often without even noticing it, I am very aware of the part I play in it all, even on a very small scale. I have often in the past, chosen not to photograph, merely to witness because I am exhausted by the question of truth – is this really what someone looks like, is this who this person really is or is this just what I want to see or is this just what they want to share? Is there any such thing as truth? Is all photography just a lie? Does it matter? As soon as I lift a camera I manipulate; I frame and recompose, I isolate and accentuate certain things that I see. I create, embrace and hone in on something beautiful but I also subtly discard all that I do not like or want to share.
As do the people I photograph. Intuitively, silently, energetically. We collaborate to make something unique, something we’ve not seen or shared before. And equally, as I focus on some part of that person’s personality or the way that the light hits his or her face or the way they hold their hands or body and through this series of tiny little things, we make a connection and that is powerful; that isworth sharing with the world.
I get a real buzz out of taking and sharing photographs, of working together with someone to share something new and I am forever drawn back to photography, to filmmaking as a way to express myself, as a way to connect to others – both to people I know and to people I will never meet. Beautiful and/or thought-provoking photographs can make the world seem like a better place and acknowledging and then sharing someone’s pain through photography can also be a way to say “I am here; I am listening; you are heard”. I also love getting the opportunity to express myself, to be draw to someone else’s eyes, or to the beautiful greenery or the offbeat decor around them. And I am especially keen on hearing their stories while we photograph, now that can be fun! Life is lived in the details!
So much of photography and the media in general is deceitful and more and more recently I’ve wanted to do what I can to help balance out that particular aspect of the world. I want the work I do to be positive and life-reaffirming So I have started to make my own personal photographs again and I get a great deal of enjoyment out of them as I hope others do too. This extends to professionally too. Working with clients, and especially working within communities, meeting new people and seeing new faces, just for a day or even few minutes, can be exhilarating. A connection can be made, fleeting yet felt deeply. This for me is what photography is really about.
Over the next year I am going to be making a point of taking and making new portraits and of sharing them, with the intention of being present; positive; generous; ambitious and connected. Regularly. Come back occasionally to check them out.