The Difference a Year Makes: How Practice Has Improved My Portraiture
Around this time of year in 2018, I decided to try my hand at professional portraiture. Having had my photo taken a few times, and thoroughly enjoying the initial nerve-wracking experience, I wondered if I’d like to be behind the camera instead.
At this point I had been studying and working in a field, that had sadly sucked the creativity out of me, for over six years. I felt depleted and uninspired. So when I asked a few pals to shoot with me over a couple of Summer evenings, I had not anticipated the levels of fulfilment from, and excitement I had over, the process to hit me like a ton of bricks. I was well and truly floored.
Having that time to connect with people one-on-one, to laugh, chat and be creative together, to experience the moments where I captured “the” shot, and then seeing the images come to life in the edit, was MAGICAL. It had been a long time since I had worked on anything that left me feeling genuinely proud of the outcome. And, boy did I need that. I needed that so bad.
Over the year since then, I have worked on numerous shoots - some of which are pictured here - took the leap from full-time work to self employment, and am now trying to understand where my work’s place is in this world. Along the way I have experienced doubt and fear - something that I have come to learn is impeccably skilled in watering down my successes - but now feels like the right time to champion these positive steps and use them as a guide for where to go next.
Despite doubt and fear’s efforts, as I have become braver with experimentation and my confidence in my abilities has grown, I have been conscious of improvements along the way. They seemed small at first, like a change in composition here and trialing a different angle there, but I’ve come to realise their impact on my shooting process and deliverables over time.
Now I’m thinking to get lower and higher than the subject, rather than simply shoot straight-on, which has meant being able to toy with creating moods; particularly a sense of relaxed openness (see Holly below) or confidence (see Luke above). I’m remembering to shoot a subject with their head above the horizon line, which looks far cleaner as apposed to an accidental beheading… And I’m also noticing an unexpected and unintentional shift towards shooting in floral and field locations, which I absolutely adore. Particularly when it provides the opportunity to play with fabric and filters - another aspect I'm am having fun with!
Here are some of my favourite images from the year…
When I started taking portraits, it was simply because I wanted to take pictures of people and enjoyed the experience of doing so. From a young age I would opt for programmes with “real” people in them (aka Zoey 101, Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide and That’s So Raven…) over cartoons, and chose to study documentary-making at university, all because of a natural curiosity towards people and their stories. In many ways it’s understandable why I’ve ended up here. Now I’ve spent a year meeting interesting people, and building my skills, I’d like to start taking moving towards crafting a specialism.
I know there’s definitely something in here in regards to shooting in nature and being experimental in doing so, and would like to explore that more. In the meantime, I feel like the next viable steps are continuing to shoot any and everyone who wants to work with me, to keep my skills broad and options open, but to make time to dig into this route that’s starting to reveal itself to me.
A big thank you to everyone who has chosen to work with me over the last year. Without you, there wouldn’t be everything that you see here, and I’m so bloomin’ grateful. Here’s to the next year of portraiture, and wherever it takes me!