I've been expanding my photography to new areas. When I was younger I was drawn to nature and landscape photography. I'd pack my camping and camera gear (and lots of film!) to head into the mountains for a few days. Later, as my vacation budgets increased, I pursued travel photography as though I was a photographer from National Geographic Traveler. In recent years, my lens has been focused on pets, primarily dogs, and I've done my best to master lighting both in the studio and on location. What I never photographed -- and, frankly, avoided as much I could -- was making images of people.
It's clear to me why this pattern developed. Mountains, trees, architecture, and animals don't care that you are pointing a camera at them. They just go about their business and will let you take as many images as you'd like without ever complaining. OK, the dogs will eventually lose interest in all the silly noises, but you get the idea. And you can fiddle and tweak camera settings all you'd like and the mountain and lake won't move.
Photographing people is a whole other ball game! Lighting and composition are just a fraction of what's required. Those are the "blocking and tackling" fundamentals that have to come automatically. What makes a great people photographer is their ability to connect with people. Since my "day job" has been sales for the past 30 years, you'd think that would come to me easily and naturally. But like every other part of the creative process, I find it takes practice. After all, you need to be making your subject feel relaxed, comfortable and attractive while simultaneously working out all the challenges you are facing as the photographer. And you can't take all day to do it!
I realized that by avoiding people, I was avoiding the greatest photography challenge of all. A few years ago I set out to face that challenge. I now shoot more images of people than I do of dogs, and almost all of my published work has been for magazine articles about people. While I have taken headshots, the majority of this work is designed to photograph the individual in a setting that tells you something more about the person/people in the image. This genre of photography is known as "environmental portraiture," and I love it.
Following are just a few examples of environmental portraits I've made over the past few years. And if you think you see a trend -- that I like to create images where the surroundings are allowed to go dark while I light the subject -- you would be correct. To me, this is a way to include the "environment," but still highlight the subject of the image.
If you, or someone you know, could benefit from having images such as these that tell a story, please contact me.