Holly Marilyn Solem - Actor. Hollywood 2013.
Portrait photography as a whole is a tricky medium. They say "Never work with Animals or Children." might be easier to just throw in all humans. Now don't get me wrong, Holly above was an actual dream to work with and as is usual with many of my best shots a last minute shoot.
Working in Los Angeles has some huge advantages as a photographer but also a few obvious disadvantages. Whilst you have a large potential portrait subject mass in Hollywood, quite often the “cheese” factor people think you would be privileged to shoot them and of course for free. This actually often stops me from telling people what I do artistically to earn a living, especially when out in Hollywood.
So the art of the portrait. A still image that captivates the personality and soul of the individual all in one frame, a moment in time, and at a specific period in human life. Candid versus Posed, staged environment versus more natural, happy versus sad the list goes on.
Often time will dictate what you can do. Those of my peers reading this who have photographed famous people will agree that most of the time you are lucky to get five minutes with them and have to adapt as quickly as possible. The only upside to the time factor pressure is when dealing with experienced pros you often get more in 5 minutes than most people could in a lifetime.
Obviously some portraits are far more planned out and can take months if not years of planning. One thing that is always happening inside my head is the “working backwards factor” you know the shot you want and now you work backwards to find all the parts you need to make it happen.
So next time you see someone staring out at you from a printed cover, page or website, take a little time to see if you can work out how long the photographer actually had to nail that shot. Just don’t include the three hours they were in hair and make-up.
It’s all in the eyes people!
Graham John Bell