(Guardalavaca, Cuba)

(Harare, Zimbabwe)

wednesday, the 3rd of january, 2024

Blogs tend to be filled with loads of useful information but I often find myself skimming to the good stuff. Here’s the good stuff. 

1. Never look down on you subject unless you are Motaz or your subject is stuck in a snow drift. You are fortunate to take their photograph so give them the power they deserve. 

2. Emphasise quirks. Do you remember the 90s when a ‘big bum’ comment was malicious? It was a time before we appreciated the allure and power of a large hook-nose. Thankfully our palates have expanded [our level of compassion however is more questionable than ever]. Humans are unique, so go ahead and highlight their differences through thoughtful positioning and logical camera angles. Lanky guy? Have him lean on a tree or a fence. When framing said lanky guy, get into a nice squat [expect a burn if you’re a slow focuser like me]. Clubbed fingers? Don’t hide those hands in pant pockets! Put those puppies on display.

3. Compliment your subject. They are exceptional in your eyes so tell them why. This creates an optimistic and comfortable vibe – yes, photography is all about the vibe. You’re taking that energy with you into your camera, onto your negative, dunking it in chemicals, scanning it ever so patiently, editing it to anal-retentive-perfection and finally – sharing it with your circle of internet friends [acquaintances] and hopefully a kind curator, competition judge or NY Times photo editor who will flip your world upside down [let’s aim high].

4. Demonstrate desired positioning. I will often place myself in the scene and pose in the manner in which I had envisoned for the subject. When they step in, tweaks are naturally made with our new found trust Being vulnerable and open to embarrassment reveals how committed you are to the portrait. It’s now a mission and you’re in it together.

5. Use the right instrument. They [who?] say a great photographer can utilize any camera to produce smashing photographs. Which is a bit of a fib. When it comes down to it, there will be a very visible distinction between a photograph taken with the Fuji X100V [the perfect pocket digital] vs the same photograph taken with the Leica M6 + Canon 50mm f/0.9 dream lens [yes, a completely unfair comparison]. The difference here is that the general public will believe the photograph from the Leica was taken by a much more impressive photographer 99% of the time [when in fact, she was just richer]. To really push my point, the  Mamiya 7 is an A++ medium format camera with a small army of razer sharp lenses – none of which will allow for a snug head-taking-up-the-whole-frame portrait. Invest well in your tools and think hard about what you want to shoot. Because reselling that gear on eBay is a bit of a bitch. 

Those are my tips! Let me know if you have any better ones.

According to the net, this is the moment where I induce you to perform a certain act also known as my call to action to admire a precious animal portrait.

(Guardalavaca, Cuba)

(Heatherton, Victoria)