Whenever I have a discussion with another professional photographer about my portrait philosophy it often becomes a subject of debate. I believe this is mainly because I’m taking everything they have been taught up to that point and saying, “That’s wrong.” More correctly I’m saying, “That’s not the way it has to be” but they hear, “That’s wrong” so the debate ensues.
The Back Story
Initially I wanted nothing to do with portraits. After some coaxing by my wife and some rather good experiences with my initial clients, I found myself not only doing family portrait photography regularly, but enjoying it quite a bit! Working with people was far more rewarding than I ever thought it could be, and the best part was they were paying me to do something I loved to do! That’s a good spot to be in, but I wasn’t completely happy with everything about the family portraiture process.
As professionals we are taught by those who have gone before us that there is a certain way that we must do business or we will fail as portrait photographers. Of course, many of these photographers are wise women and men who have learned these lessons the hard way. I’m not one to easily discount what they have to say, but there where a few issues that just didn’t sit well with me.
- It’s Impersonal – The process of studio and/or location shoots had very little to do with the subjects. Good photographers will try to get to know their clients and some clients do become very good friends, but rarely is this knowledge reflected in the images.
- It’s Thoughtless – A major reason why images are so impersonal is that photographers go on autopilot. What good does it do to get to know your client if you are just going to take them to the same locations and take the same photos you took with your last clients?
- It’s Rushed – The theory is that if you spend more than 10 minutes post-processing an image you are throwing away money.
As time went on, I grew more and more frustrated with the way this business model of photography worked. I decided to see if I could find another way. I wanted another blueprint to follow or I would need to figure out a way to make my own.