Above: Image, Gina Milicia
Yesterday I made someone cry and it made me feel good, really good. For the record I’m not a sadist or a psychopath. Let me explain…
I was photographing Jane, (name changed to protect the innocent) an entrepreneur in her early 50’s who was launching a new venture and needed a fresh set of profile images.
Jane was beautiful and had an amazing energy. I saw an intelligent, warm, engaging, confident, beautiful woman and that’s how I photographed her.
We spent a couple of hours together and I shot three different setups in three different outfits and locations. Jane was a dream client. I loved her energy. She took direction well and with a little help from my visualisation technique, I was able to capture a warm, confident, and beautiful version of Jane.
So why the tears then? The tears were not tears of despair, they were tears of joy. I was showing Jane her photos and she started crying. She was overwhelmed by the images that she saw because the version of “Jane” that I had captured was not the Jane she saw when she looked in the mirror.
When Jane looked in the mirror she fixated on her perceived flaws based on the crap the media and social media spits out about what ideal beauty is. Beauty isn’t a specific clothing size, hair style or flawless skin. It’s best summed up in this beautiful quote:
“She was beautiful, but not like those girls in the magazines. She was beautiful, for the way she thought. She was beautiful, for the sparkle in her eyes when she talked about something she loved. She was beautiful, for her ability to make other people smile, even if she was sad. No, she wasn’t beautiful for something as temporary as her looks. She was beautiful, deep down to her soul. She is beautiful.”
I love my job so much! I get to show people how amazing they are. I wish I could bottle that high people experience when they see their photos. Self-confidence and self-worth are powerful emotions.
When you photograph someone what are you seeing?
Getting the exterior shot, lighting, posing, composition, is 20% of the work. Finding the inner spark, joy, energy, spirit, soul or (insert any woowoo phrase you prefer) makes up the remaining 80%.
If you’re lucky, sometimes a model will give this up freely, but it’s rare. Sometimes you’ll stumble on it by accident, but with a little practice and self-confidence (that you get from practise) you’ll learn how to draw out the energy or inner beauty from your model.
The best portraits are lit from within.