While it is enjoyable and often challenging to make photographs that celebrate the human form, there is also opportunity to create other types of images within the genre. Personally, I think what drew me to photography was a desire to tell stories, and it has guided my path throughout my career. Creating images that have emotional content is quixotic, yet immensely rewarding.
At a recent mentorship, after almost two two days of shooting, my client said he was done and I could shoot with our model just for myself. It was a kind offer, and I was delighted to have a chance to shoot with a model who, through her actions over the two days, clearly had a personal story that she kept to herself.
I often find that the best direction is very little direction, and I’ve heard well-known actors and directors say the same thing. Giving someone a point of reference, and then letting them explore often leads to more powerful images than if you tell them exactly where to look and how to position their arms.
In this case, after showing her the background plate, I simply asked Olivia to think about being a survivor, alone in a hostile world. That was the extent of it. What came through, I think, was a photograph of a confident, powerful human. And for me, the part that keeps me looking at the photograph is the emotion. Why is she here, what is she thinking, what is the threat or challenge she is facing down?
Collaborating with models who are partners in the creative process can be revelatory. Using just a few choice words can create an environment in which they can explore emotion and bring your work to a new level.