When I see my client’s personality shine through my prints I feel a profond sense of satisfaction and success. It is easy to capture when the person I photograph feels naturally confident and comfortable in front of the camera. But at other times, it takes a little bit of work to make the person trust me and “pull down her/his guard”. With children especially it is important to take the time to establish a connection. They need to know why they can trust me and my camera before I can even start shooting.
At other times, culture comes into play. In Africa for example, I found out that it was very hard to make people smile for me. Sometimes people even refused to let me take their pictures. The reasons were varied. They didn’t trust that my intention were pure. How did they know that I wasn’t going back to Europe to print postcards and earn a lot of money they would never get to enjoy? Others were convinced I was stealing their souls. Others, just didn’t feel like “playing along” and being paraded like exotic creatures. Whatever the reason, I knew they were all very valid and shouldn’t be taken lightly. I made it a point to go back and share a copy of my pictures with the subjects I photographed. Thanks to today’s digital cameras, it was also possible to show them on the spot what was indeed happening from my side of the camera and explain to them that I simply wanted to keep a memory of the beauty I saw in them.
Working the camera also means taking multiple shots of the same space to capture the fleeting moment where the inner beauty reveals itself through a gesture, a facial expression. It implies being quick and nimble, patient and attentive. I love this challenge and see it as a game. I enjoy getting to know my clients on a deeper level and share with them and their loved ones how special they are.