Great portraits are built on trust between photographer and the subject

Nikon D4, 85mm ƒ/1.8, ISO 100, ƒ/1.8, 1/400

Three things for a great portrait

  1. Expression
  2. Expression
  3. Expression
Everytime I get ready to do a portrait session I have butterflies. I get extremely nervous and anxious.
I believe most seasoned photographers and artists feel the same way. They may react differently from each other, but there is something scary when your ability to do your best relies not just with you but with another person.
Yesterday I photographed Jane and as I always I started off with those butterflies and anxiety and as time went on I started to calm down and really enjoy our time.

Its not all about you
In the case of portraits it is all about capturing the subject’s best expressions.
Nikon D4, 85mm ƒ/1.8, ISO 50, ƒ/2.8, 1/200, 20″x30″ softbox powered by Alienbees B1600 and Vagabond battery pack
Jane was one of my favorite subjects in a very long time. The reason she made for such a wonderful subject is she was willing to try just about anything and also she enjoyed giving me a range of expressions.

First the technical
The very first thing I am doing is getting the camera settings and lighting set just right. Also I am trying to pick a good location when it comes to shooting on location somewhere.
Nikon D4, 85mm ƒ/1.8, ISO 100, ƒ/4, 1/250, 20″x30″ softbox powered by Alienbees B1600 and Vagabond battery pack
This was my very first photo of Jane. I noticed when she arrived what she was wearing and took note of the color. I thought the dress was similar to the color of the bricks of the Roswell Mill—just a little lighter.
A good complimentary color to what she was wearing was green. I liked this setting a lot, but quickly realized that it was just a little too busy for my taste. I felt like the setting was competing with Jane too much.
Nikon D4, 85mm ƒ/1.8, ISO 50, ƒ/2.8, 1/60, 20″x30″ softbox powered by Alienbees B1600 and Vagabond battery pack
This is one of my favorite photos from the day. You may ask why I like this so much. Well I believe a photographer should be able to articulate why they like a certain photograph over another.
This photo to me feels like a Dove commercial. Dove brand has done a great deal through the years to define what is beauty and having wonderful skin and great expression was core to their brand.
Today the Dove Real Beauty Campaign is for girls and women to understand that their power and their beauty does not come from a tube or an airbrush or a cream, but rather from their own personalities and power.

Authenticity
The key is for the photographer to be authentic with the subject. I listened a lot to Jane and her mother. I listened with my ears and eyes.
“What kind of look are you going for?” was my question and they had an answer. Jane liked the look of the model from the 60’s Twiggy and Taylor Swift.

While that was the look, I was really interested in also capturing her personality. Jane is such a ham and loves to goof around and I tried to be sure and encourage her to be herself.Here are some other photos from our time:

One thing I think helps me capture the best in people is when I am really in tune to their personality and recognize moments that really accentuate it.By the way I am reminded over and over through interviews with major recording artists that most of them also get butterflies and anxious just before they step onto stage. I think those that understand how fragile relationships really are and how much they must work at them will succeed more often than those who plow ahead.