How to Get Out of the Way of a Portrait


At first I thought about showing this shot (in-camera) to Ema and saying “try not to look so worried, Ema…” but I resisted and I am glad I did. Somehow, the way her brow is lifted, the way her eyes are focused on some thought far far away … the way her mouth is slightly turned down and so relaxed, the way her hair falls to half cover her face … that light, the soft animal body of Ema … somehow this is who she really is and I am glad I did not try to change her today.

My best portraits are the ones that have reached into a person’s soul and somehow let it shine out through the facial expression, eyes, body language. Not the ones where they were smiling at the camera, being their “perfect selves.” ┬áBut the shots where there might be a sadness. A thoughtfulness, some discomfort — or deep comfort. The shots where they weren’t wearing makeup or the clothes they thought they should wear, or perfectly styled hair. ┬áThose best portraits are the ones where I captured a moment dis-armed. The space between two heartbeats. The true heart of a person. When I can do this, I feel deeply satisfied.