I wrote a paper allll about my point-of-view change, and how if I could, I would ONLY shoot candid photos for the rest. of. my. life.
here's the paper.
I was in health science, trying to find any way to entertain myself; drowning out the teacher. It was an anatomy room, but for some reason on the big book shelf in the back of the room (right behind my back-row seat) there were two shelves filled with books of influential photography. One collection caught my eye. Seven black-spine books, a different vintage pattern on each cover. (That is part of what drew me in, as I am a sucker for anything antique-looking.) Each of them holding decade by decade in Time-Life Magazine pictures. Every day, I’d take a book from a different decade, and dive into the pictures. So black and white, yet so meaningful.
To my recollection, there was no significant moment where I realized, “Oh! I love taking pictures. I think I’ll make that a hobby.” Nope, it was more of a gradual thing. I was often encouraged by the people in my life. They told me I had talent, so I pursued that talent. I started taking my best friend on test photo shoots, to see what I got. I got more practice, and eventually started charging for shoots. I started loving it more.
Photography is a very common “hobby” and job here in Utah. You hand someone a nice camera, and they think they’re a photographer. I am still greatly amateur, learning as I go. Other photographers gave the ideas, so I went with all of the traditional poses, and I loved it. You know, folding arms, leaning against a wall, popping a foot, hugging, all of that and more. Classic was the way I was headed. And I’m still there. But there is one other genre of photos that I later grew to appreciate, and utilized in almost every picture-taking situation now.
“The Kiss” is one of the most famous and influential pictures in America. People gathered in Time Square, as the joyous announcement that the war with Japan had come to an end at last. A sailor dips back a girl he doesn’t know, and kisses her. Photographer and photojournalist Alfred Eisenstaedt happened to be in that spot, at that moment, to capture that kiss. I’m sure he took hundreds of pictures that day, and that man kissed many girls, as it was a happy day to say the least. But if he had not been in that very spot, this picture wouldn’t exist. And if that picture didn’t exist, my opinion on the style of my pictures might not have changed as much. I fell in love with the idea of a photo not being planned out.
The other day, I hopped on the “LIFE” website. Although I have such a love for the beautiful pictures that have come from this magazine in the years passed, I had never been on this site. I spent a good half hour looking at different collections of the world’s most influential photographs; each one touching and significant. Although black and white, full of color. They show emotion, and tell a story. Most of these pictures seem to have one thing in common, and that trait is candidness. The photographer probably didn’t say to Jackie Robinson, “Alright, now pretend like you are sliding into home”. They probably didn’t prompt the busboy at the scene of Robert Kennedy’s assassination to cradle his head, and stare blankly at the camera. These are serendipitous moments. The photographer was in the right place, at the right time. They are fortunate accidents.
Though there was not one significant moment when I discovered my love for this type of photography, I have grown such an appreciation for it, and try my best to incorporate the honesty of these images into my own photos, making them my own. To me, there is so much more power in a photograph of real life happening – real smiles, laughs, and chit chat – than simply looking at the camera.
There is a picture I took in a family session of my great friends that stands as a prime example of this. Kelsey and Paul are the parents of 4-year-old Macey and 18-month-old Miles. (anyone who knows kids these age can vouch… looking at the camera is just about the last thing they want to do when surrounded by fields and mountains to explore with their eyes!) Kelsey is holding miles, and Paul is standing right behind Kelsey with little Macey on his back. While the ladies are smiling at the camera, Miles and Dad are having a bonding moment behind mama’s head. A picture as simple and candid as that shows the bonding moment between father and son, and their relationship even with Miles at less than two years old.
Now of course, a whole photo shoot can’t be as candid as I would like it to be. But that doesn’t mean I don’t try each and every time. You’ll often hear me say “Ok, now pretend to laugh.” Most of the time, people feel stupid when they pretend to laugh, so they end up actually laughing… at themselves, and each other.
Another thing that helps me to accomplish this “candid look” very well, is taking pictures of children. It is by far my favorite type of photo shoot, because kids are kids. And they can never focus on one thing, so they do whatever they feel like, and I capture that. Them being themselves, playing, and laughing.
At the beginning of my interest in photography, I was so focused on the simple, to-be-expected poses and styles of pictures. But through different and many experiences, I have learned that taking pictures of people being real, and acting themselves is much more meaningful than telling them to smile at the camera.
There you have it, folks.
after this paper, I started putting together a book of these sorts of pictures. the folder name is called "honest".
I'll probably post it in some thpecial way in a year or so, I gotta keep building it!
for now, here's three of my favorites so far. (and the one mentioned in the essay)
|haha, Emily's face.|