Pensive Is Joy

 

Faces without expression interest me.
I like the ambiguity, the pensiveness.
But clients don’t like Pensive.
Not as a general rule.
They like unvarnished Joy.
Always have.
So.
Lately I’m doing something different.
During family photo shoots,
I run participants through a series of prompts.
Together we travel from Pensive to Joy
With many waystations in between.
I’m happy with the results.
I get what I want.
And clients get what they want.
Thoughts and reactions are welcome!

Contact me for kids, teens, couples, family, and corporate photography in the Bay Area.

Let’s Shoot, She Said

Can you take my photo, Alex asked.
She needed a new profile pic for work and LinkedIn.
Of course, I said.
So we met in Campbell near the Ainsley House.
Typically, the first five to 10 minutes is a warm up period.
I’m reading the light,
Tinkering with exposure,
And establishing rapport and trust.
The client is often wrestling with discomfort
And the self-consciousness of being observed by a Cyclops.
It can take some time to get comfortable,
In both directions, in front of and behind the camera.
Results in the beginning are usually competent and satisfactory, if a bit forced.

Portrait photography candid profile picture business woman outdoors

But after warm up, interesting things can happen.
Interesting good things.
In the case of our photo shoot, Alex and I started talking about life,
About college, about baking, about scuba diving—
And of course about work,
Where integrity and self-assurance are key.

Portrait photography business executive head shot woman outdoors

Then something unexpected happened.
Unplanned and unbidden,
Our conversation turned into a fun, creative jam session.
We played with foregrounding and framing.

Portrait photography candid profile picture social personal flowers outdoors

We captured candid profile pics for use on social media.

Portrait photography candid profile picture social personal flowers outdoors

And we made B&W portrait art.
Catch light! Catch light! Just look at Alex’s eyes.
This image is proof that life without specular highlights is drab.

Portrait photography outdoor black white fine art headshot outdoors

A business portrait photo shoot
That morphs into a creative session for social media photos,
Which then evolves into B&W fine art photography is pretty damn cool.
And I’m very grateful it happened.
Thank you, Alex!

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Shoot, My Finger Said

Portrait photography young woman BW old-school

“What could be more simple and more complex, more obvious and more profound than a portrait.” That’s Charles Baudelaire, a French poet and an art critic, on the mysteries of portraiture. And I think he’s right.

There are a million ways to botch a portrait, even in the best conditions. In my experience, admittedly limited, a good portrait is a minor miracle. You’re not really responsible for it, neither you nor the subject. It just sort of happens, unplanned, unbidden. At best, you hope it happens. And you practice and prepare to help the moment along when it does.

Take this young lady, for instance. She was sitting near a fire in a room surrounded by windows, overlooking Donner Lake. The light in the room was perfect. And the light on her face and shoulders was even better.

Can I photograph you, I asked.

Yeah, sure, she said, a little surprised.

So I went to work with an 85mm shooting wide open, gathering as much light as possible for a high-key portrait with a studio feel, even though we were in a public space.

Most of the time, she looked off lens, this way and that, musing on snow, wind and mountains.

Then it happened.

She bore down on the lens in a way to make a cyclops freeze. She held her gaze fast, serene and confident.

A little brain in my finger said, Shoot. And my finger obliged, thankfully, because Something ageless was born in that moment.

Explore portraits or check out the promotion I’m running in June.