When I used to work as a photographer, I almost entirely focused on people. Sceneries never fascinated me enough, but people had so much to offer me. I remember looking for the perfect picture. Taking the perfect pose of my subject. Something that I felt portrayed this individual perfectly and that I would enjoy looking at again and again.
A good example of that is this photo of Gogol Bordello’s Eugene Hutz.
I always felt that this photo is a great example of the kind of musician he is. That, of course, meant I needed to have an opinion about this person. Perhaps some sort of a preconceived notion.
Just today, I came across a photographic experiment that got me thinking.
It’s true. You do it even without realizing it. How many times has a photographer said: “I’m going to take pictures of you that portray exactly who you are.”. But does the photographer know really who their subject is? Perhaps we feel good about ourselves when looking at a photo we took and say: “Yeap. This is the man/woman I know.” And yet, 6 different people took photos of this man, believing they knew who he was. Six different photos, all portraying an entirely different man.
I guess it all comes down to this.
What would the end result be if I take photographs of a person inspired by their presence that very moment, rather than inspired by my preconceived notion and beliefs about them?
And now replace “take photographs of” with “speak to”, “smile at”, “look at”, “talk with”, etc…