I’ve often wondered about advertising or editorial images that show no connection — it’s often like the model is simply there to wear the clothes, or the subject is meant to be a cold statue. Sure a shoot may start off distant between the photographer and the subject, but when looking at images, I want to see a connection, a link, some expression or moment. I want to feel something about the person pictured, ideally something unexpected.
For me shoots progress and change as I spend time with my subject. Just yesterday we were shooting a model in the studio for a project where we had her jumping in the air, hair flying. Looking at the images on the camera, I told her we had it, it was great, but I wanted something more. There was a tension in the way she held her ankles and the outer three fingers on each hand. I turned up the music and asked her to relax, stop thinking about what she was being asked to do, and just jump — “feel it.”
Recently I did images of a boxer with whom I sat down first before the shoot. I asked him where he was from and what he’d done for the summer, where he lived and how long he’d been boxing — I wanted to find some connection, some points to discuss — a way in. Yes, I wanted tough shadow boxing images, but I wanted to find more — something unexpected to make the image stand out.
After the studio work, we headed to a park setting for the chain link background. I had to bring him outside into the late sun – the soft focus and flare on the chain link was a great contrast to him going through his exercises. As we neared the end we had progressed through stages that I often see in my shoots — stand-offish/cold, moving toward focusing on the task, until finally something genuine emerges, something unexpected.
There is something great about seeing this ripped tough boxer just crack up with sincere laughter.