Did you get my good side?

I've been doing a lot of portrait work in the last couple months and I've been noticing a common thread that runs through almost every session. This is certainly not new, but I've just been paying closer attention. And I've found that almost every shoot seems to contain a conversation that goes something like this:

Subject: Okay, make sure to get my good side.

Me: Okay, no problem...which one is your good side?


Subject: Okay, just don't get my scar in this.

Me: Yeah, of course not...so, where exactly is your scar?


Subject: You can photo-shop this, right?

Me: Sure...but what would you like me to change?

And let me follow that up by saying that I haven't been out documenting a herd of Ug-o's. It's been normal, attractive, real people. To my eyes none of them have had anything to be embarrassed about. It's all an issue of confidence.

As a photographer, it's also interesting that everyone has entrusted to me, a relative stranger, their insecurity; the part of themselves about which they feel the most self conscious. They obviously feel the need to bring it up, as if I have clearly seen their hideous deformity, but am too polite to mention it. To them it's the elephant in the room. I take this as a compliment; that my subjects feel comfortable enough to divulge these nagging self doubts. But I am often left wondering why they feel this way in the first place. In almost all of these situations, I have not noticed what they perceive to be their biggest flaw until they point it out. And even then, it has never stood out to me as an issue. It's not as if anyone has come in and said "Okay, let's do these photos, just don't get this third hairy, ear growing out of the middle of my forehead."

Ultimately, I feel a little bad for everyone, knowing that they have this thing about themselves that is always hanging around in the background, undercutting their confidence. And the great irony is that, for the most part, it doesn't even register for the other people around them.

All cards on the table, I will admit to not being fond of having my own photo taken. I have a weird tendency to let my left eye lid sag, and I often adopt an awkward grin that makes me look slightly creepy and dim-witted. It's hard to describe, but let's just say that it's not all together flattering. It is my great and sincere hope that I only make this face for photos, because if I'm walking around like that all the time...I don't even want to think about it. I am also not impressed by images that in anyway capture the back of my head, where apparently the ratio of hair coverage to vacant scalp is rapidly becoming 1:1. I do not like this. So to my subjects, let me say this: I'm with you. You're not alone. I get it.

But I would like to propose that we start to change the way we think about ourselves, taking comfort in the fact that, for the most part, others don't even see the flaws that we each obsess over. What if we started to see ourselves as others do? What if our scars and wrinkles could be marks of a life well lived instead of blemishes to hide from the world? What if we flaunted what we were most proud of or rather than trying to conceal our insecurities? What if we loved ourselves?

Let's do that instead.


Senior Portraits-Jackson.

Hey everyone, meet Jackson. Jackson is a fairly eclectic guy. He's a bow-hunter, a fisherman, a runner, a snow board racer, a scuba diver, a fire fighter, etcetera etcetera. The list goes on. I feel like a total bum talking to this kid. Anyway, someone like Jackson deserves some unique senior portraits, so we put together a shoot that was a little different than most. From the start, it seemed that the universe was against us. There were cloudy skies and boat motors that wouldn't start and lost arrows. But we persevered and, after defaulting to a second day of shooting, we got some really great images. For me that's the fun part.


Senior Portraits-Adam.


One of my favorites from a senior portrait shoot last week with Adam in Washburn. Headed to Michigan again at the end of this week, then I'm back for more shoots in the Chequamegon Bay Area. Lots more of these to come during the end of this month and the beginning of September. If you still need to book a senior portrait session for this season give me a call soon, the calendar is getting pretty full. Enjoy the last couple weeks of summer, it's going fast.

Winding Down the Portrait Season.


It's been a great year for senior portraits, and with the photo deadline in the local schools fast approaching, I suspect my fall is starting to wind down a little bit. Although, for all you procrastinator's out there, I still have some slots open before the cutoff. Give me a call to set somthing up if your still thinking about it. That blatant sales pitch aside, I had another great portrait session yesterday afternoon with Taylor. We did a few studio shots on white and then headed outside for some photos by the lake and another little spot downtown. I watched the weather all weekend and called Taylor monday night to talk about possibly cancelling our Tuesday shoot because it was supposed to rain. We decided to play it by ear, but mentally I was clearing time later in the week, expecting a rainy afternoon. Despite some gloomy weather in the morning, yesterday afternoon turned out to be beautiful: clear skys and 70. There was a bit of a breeze, but even that worked in our favor a little bit. Hell, some studios spend hundreds of dollars on wind machines to get that "tossled" look, and we got it for free. Not bad. If no one else books senior portraits this season, this was a great shoot to wind down the season with. Now I'm ramping up for more commercial work during the fall, a completely different kind of shooting. Should be fun. Watch for some of that coming down the pipe in the next few weeks.

Senior Portraits and Travel.

Had a great senior portrait shoot this weekend with Amy. Above are two of my favorites from the afternoon. Haven't had much of a chance to process the other images yet and I probably won't until the end of the week. I'm in Vermont today for a photo shoot, another in Maine tonight, and then flying out of New Hampshire tomorrow afternoon. Kind of cool to check out the East Coast a little, never really been here before. Everything is so close together. Watch for more photos in the next couple days.

Practicing for Underwater Portraits.

Well, good news, someone must be reading this blog: I got a handful of calls this week about the Underwater Senior Portrait Challenge and it sounds like I've got two brave souls in the Ashland area who are ready to give it a shot. Awesome. I'm not going to say who they are until after the shoot (which should be in the middle of August), but I'm super excited. I went out again this weekend to practice in the water a little more before the big shoot. Underwater photos are way harder than normal photography. There's a lot more to think about all at once, including how long can you actually hold your breath while you get things set up. Anyway, none of my friends wanted to pose for a practice shot, so I found this little fella. What he lacked in beauty he made up for in patience.

Turn a little, smile with your eyes, perfect...click...hold that...click...okay, now pout for the camera...perfect, click...okay, take a break, there's some water over there if you want some...

We swam around in circles for a good ten minutes before he got bored with the whole scene and moved on. Kind of cool. Watch for some real underwater portraits in the next few weeks.