Taking a photograph can – actually should – create a sense of intimacy between the photographer and the subject.

In my portrait work, I take a lot of time getting to know the client, trying to make her (or him)  comfortable and at ease, learning every thing I can about the person, answering any questions and concerns. Most people are hesitant to have their picture taken to some degree or another (a subject for a future post).  I try my best to help the client overcome that hesitancy.

For a portrait to be successful, the image should portray something about the personality of the subject. The time I spend with the person before the shoot helps me to uncover some ideas for the shoot that will reveal a part of the personality. An if there is that sense of intimacy developed, then it shines through in the picture. And that sense of intimacy and connection hopefully carries over to someone who views the image later on.

By intimacy, I certainly don’t mean crossing any boundaries of appropriate behavior. I’m extremely careful about this, for all the obvious reasons.  But a sense of trust and closeness can be developed while maintaining a professional, courteous and – I’ll use an old-fashioned word here – gentlemanly approach.

This picture is of a model who uses the name  Mayhem Muse. I spent the good part of a day with her. We had a wonderful makeup artist as part of the shoot, Michelle Abbruzzese. Check out Michelle’s fabulous work at her website. We shot a wide variety of looks, wardrobe, lighting and poses.

In this image, Muse’s hair is slightly wild and unruly, aided partially by a fan which I brought into the studio. Yet her facial expression also shows a quiet sense of contemplation or reflection. As I got to know Muse, I saw these two sides of her personality and tried to represent them in the photograph.  The lighting was designed to complement the idea of the two sides of Muse. The lighting is fairly high contrast, with two lights coming in at almost 90 degrees from each side.

This image would have been impossible to create wihtout taking the steps to develop a feeling of trust and connection with Muse.

Addendum: After I first posted this article, this image won a second prize in the annual Darien Art Show, in the color photography category. The great team we had on the shoot – Muse, the model, and Michelle, the makeup artist, made this a successful image.

Photo Tip: Take the time to really get to know your subject – to become intimate.


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