There was a scenario I saw where 5 photographers were given the same subject. They were each told a different background story about the subject and, at the end, they compared the 5 photographs. Every photograph elicited a different mood based on the story they were told. I think that should hold true in every artist's work. When we look at a person- is it fitting to take the same photo of them that we just took of someone else? How can we make theirs unique to their own story?
If we know our subjects, friends or family, we likely know their story. For me, it can be a challenge to shut that off if I am trying to see them in a new perspective. Shut all of that off and start from scratch. Who do they want to be in this photograph? What story are we both trying to tell?
Creative collaboration is the key to any successful shoot. I try and approach every shoot with complete flexibility if I can. Before, I try and get to know the subject. What is the purpose of these photographs. Is it for art? Is it for work? Is it for their significant other? What do they want out of it? If they don't know, I make suggestions based on who they are and what I know.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, when travelling I don't have complete flexibility. You have to be prepared for that moment you catch yourself in. I sometimes don't know my subjects until that moment I take the shot. Getting yourself in the best position to take the right photograph is vital.
One of my absolute favourite stories is from Colombia. We were visiting this small colonial town about 2.5 hours outside Cali called Popayán. When you park your car in many cities in Colombia, a person with a piece of bright cloth in their hands will wave you over to the spot, help you park and then watch your car for however long you are gone. Whilst waiting there for these famous empanadas, I went outside and saw the man who had helped park our car. His clothes were dirty, the cloth a faded green and among the white colonial buildings he stuck out. Sometimes people can give off a very instinctual first impression. So, although he was impoverished, you could see he was a hardworking and strong man. I went up to him and pointed at my camera- he got right into the frame. He ran from across the street, always keeping an eye out for his cars and knew exactly what he wanted out of the photograph. He waited for me while I tried to figure out the backwards exposure on this manual lens I had just purchased and because he gave me those extra few seconds, I took one of my favourite photographs. He never even asked to see it, he just went right back to his spot and we waved goodbye.
There are so many beautiful stories here. Each which I could write a paragraph about but perhaps it's not just about how I see each one of their stories but what you can see through them in these photographs. Imagine each one of their stories and their personalities-unique and an intimate moment they shared with the lens.