When I became a photographer 5 years ago, I started as many people usually do which is photographing something they have always wanted to, such as still life, landscape or portraits, before beginning to explore new themes and projects. But flowers and landscapes can’t talk and what i didn’t realise was the amount of trust that is placed in a photographer and how deep that trust is quickly called upon.
For example, when photographing a model, whether its male or female, respecting their space during arranging poses or their surroundings is a big part of things. There are also less tangible but equally important things such as their private contact details, how and when to contact them and the boundaries which must remain unbroken. Its a fine line to be friendly, personable yet professional so that a rapport is quickly built but never transgressed.
Each May I give my time to the Brighton Fringe and really enjoy photographing a month of happy and energetic performers all keen to make others happy and largely for no pay or gain. I really enjoy working with the performers but always approach them in the same way. By asking permission to photograph, being courteous and recognising the amount of effort that has gone into their preparation. I have seen some photographers jostle and bark instructions to gain the best shot like paparazzi’s, before walking away and with little interaction whatsoever which saddens me each time it happens. It gives photographers a bad name and makes the next encounter strained or affected by poor behaviour. It’s a constant reminder to me to act differently and respect the fact that putting on a performance in front of strangers and for which preparation which may have taken months, should not be forgotten.
When I started my wedding photography I quickly understood that you have to be the best keeper of secrets and possess the best poker face ever! I had a scenario recently where I met with a couple who i am photographing this year and the bride showed me her dress so that I could assess colour schemes and lighting. I could see that her Groom sitting beside her, (who hadn’t seen the dress), was watching me eagle eyed. My response of “it looks lovely” before quickly moving on caused a little concern in the Bride that she had somehow made the wrong choice, but I had to follow up later by explaining that i couldn’t give any comments or details about it for fear of ruining the surprise. It did look amazing and I’m looking forward to photographing for them later this year! Aside from that, planned surprises on behalf of one of the couple for the other, surprise attendees or little touches that the couple plan to spring upon the wedding party are all things which need to be carefully noted but never divulged. I’ve also understood that each family has different characteristics and delicate situations that need to be worked around and understood. Sometimes there are family situations involved, a family member that needs to be involved and some that need to be photographed apart but each one that requires the utmost integrity and tact. It’s an understanding that everyone is different and should be respected and that my own approach should adapt to ensure that the experience is as positive as possible.
I’ve wanted to write on this theme for some time now and will revisit individual aspects in later blogs as there are many different aspects to explore but for now, my message would be that it’s not the photography that sets a photographer aside, it’s how they act, how they earn trust and how they apply this to their work that is one of the most important aspects of photography. I appreciate that other photographers may have different views on this and I respect that but I’ll continue to tread my own path and create my own style. Have a great start to your week!