Most of you know that I do so much more than just portraits, however, I would have to say that portraiture is one of things I do that I enjoy the most. That wasn't always the case.
I distinctly remember, back in the late '70s I believe (I was really REALLY young then), making the remark that I didn't do portraits, didn't want to do portraits and would never do a portrait. I was only interested in landscape photography. Well, things change and one should never say 'never'. I guess I started like most portrait photographers, photographing my kids and family. One thing led to another and I started shooting weddings and soon photography became my profession. I won't bore you with the details of that transition.
So again, why portraits? Well part of it is the challenge. Every person that steps, runs, walks or crawls in front of my camera becomes a new challenge. In a very short timeframe, you need to size up your subject; watch their mannerisms, study their face and posture, listen to their voice for insights into their personality, and then create a portrait they or their family are willing to purchase. If all the elements don't come together quickly, the session could end just as quickly without "the shot".
After the work of photographing your subject, the editing, colour adjustments, retouching etc., which I also enjoy, comes the moment when you have to show your client the 'proofs'. This is the moment of truth when you find out if you were successful. Smiles, ew's and ah's, even laughter are good signs. Silence is a killer. It could mean either they hate the portraits and are in shock, or maybe, just maybe they are awed into silence. One hopes for the latter of course. You know you've done a good job when Mom has a tear on her cheek or you hear her sniffle to try to hold it back. I always have a box of tissue handy. ;)
When you've created a portrait that touches the soul and you know will have an impact on a person or family for the rest of their lives, that's what being a portrait photographer is all about. That brings the most reward. Knowing that someone will appreciate and cherish that portrait for many years and that it will bring joy, fond memories and a full heart is very fulfilling.
It's amazing what can be done when all the elements fall into place. But that's for another blog post another time.
Mike Guilbault, MPF