I’m a documentary photographer by heart; I love shooting as I find and framing moments as they happen. As a something of an introvert I’ve never felt comfortable directing people. Previously I never really directed my couples at all, instead relying on their interaction – feeling like I’d failed them if they felt uncomfortable in front of the camera and I didn’t get those expressions I’d hoped for. Whilst my passion has always been documentary photography, I am obsessed with light, and sometimes my documentary work doesn’t quite meet my needs for working with the kind of light that truly excites me, and this is where my new found interest in portraits comes into play.
A few years back I started to work on posing and direction a little more, and now we have a small repertoire of poses as well as an ongoing dialogue of nonsense to accompany it. However, it still doesn’t come naturally, I always feel my portraits could be improved and I still don’t always feel comfortable directing people.
I feel you can never stop learning, and when I saw Mexican photographer Fer Juaristi was attending the NineDots Gathering this year as a speaker – I knew I had to go. I’ve followed Fer’s work with awe for a few years now, his visions, ideas and execution are sometimes mind-blowing. As well as the gathering being an amazing experience for myriad of reasons, Fer’s talk was everything I’d hoped it would be – he’s also a very cool guy. Did I speak to him? Of course not, I’m an introvert you know….
Anyway. The reason I’m writing this post is I’m trying to push myself out of my comfort zone, out of documentary, and into portraiture. It’s scary.
A couple of years back, Ollie Stephens (an old school friend since something like 13 years old!) sang at our wedding, in return I offered to do a promo shoot for him. Yeah. I was pretty nervous, I didn’t know how to direct an individual as usually I rely on interaction between couples. It turned out ok, Ollie was happy, I was happy, enough. I haven’t done much if any portraiture since then.
Anyway. Fast-forward a couple of years. Ollie needed some new album artwork, I needed to try some new stuff post-gathering, so we set up a shoot at Huntsham Court, as you may know if you follow our work, I love the light there so much.
This is me, outside of my comfort zone, with no real plan or idea what I was going to do, and Ollie being an absolute natural, going with my sometimes weird-sounding ideas and rolling with it. I urge you to look up Ollie and show him some support, he’s super talented and an incredibly lovely fellow too. You can find him here.
Despite some 10+ years as a professional photographer, I still sometimes feel like i’m finding my feet, in some ways I hope I always feel like that.
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