Immediately on the heels of shooting Sara, I had another portrait session lined up for the following weekend. This one was a tad different. I regularly browse Craigslist for photo opp's that seem interesting, and ran into an interesting post. He was was requesting a female photographer for a portrait shoot. What drew my attention to the ad was that he bluntly stated he was not photogenic. He was the type of person who hates how he looks in all the photos he has taken of him. I immediately felt empathy for him, as I also feel the same way about myself. It is no coincidence there is only 1 photo of myself on my entire site! I choose to be behind the camera, not in front of, for a good reason.
Seeing his honest posting sparked my curiosity. I'm not a female but figured I'd shoot him an email anyways, relaying him to my website if he was interested. Just a few hours later, I received a response from him; a response that were some of the kindest words anyone has ever said to me in regards to my work:
"I mean, I was looking at your pictures (of complete strangers) and caught myself smiling, as if I was caught in the moment - that is powerful!I was surprised at how many responses I received to my ad in a short period of time. I am not selecting you because your response was first, but rather, your portfolio stood out among the others. "
And with 1 short email, I had my next assignment lined up.
We met in the following days for the pre-shoot consultation I like to have. It was very brief, but I got a deeper understanding for what he was trying to accomplish, and why he had requested a female photographer initially. He wanted to be very hands off with everything and let me run the entire show. I told him we'd absolutely capture photos he was proud of.
The day of the shoot was an absolutely frigid one. The temp in my car never went past 18 degrees. Since we were planning on shooting outside, I knew this would absolutely be a hurdle for the both of us. For him, I wanted him to be as relaxed and calm as possible in front of the camera. That is already a challenge in itself, but tacking on sub freezing temperatures would be an even greater task. It didn't take much convincing to take him to an inside location nearby for our shoot.
Arriving inside at the location, I did a quick lap around the venue to see what we could do. I wanted to integrate some environment into the pictures if possible, and not just a series of headshots and snapshots. When we settled into shooting, I could see his apprehensiveness coming alive in front of the lens. This is absolutely the same look I give cameras resulting in stiff, sterile photos. I started off with headshots to warm him up to the idea of being photographed. I tried to keep the conversation flowing the whole time, relieve some of the stress he may have been feeling. Also, to keep him occupied while a camera was in his face.
Gradually the hard work was paying off. I could see him becoming looser in his photos and a little more outgoing in what we were trying. The second half of the shoot saw far more keepers in my eyes, than the first half. Eventually he got so comfortable, that he changed his mind and wanted to get some shots outside. We finished the morning, shooting in 18 degree weather while he tried his best to keep a smile for the camera.
We wrapped up after 2 hours of shooting to head our separate ways. Some of the results of our work are below. Remember, these photos are of a guy who claimed he had never taken a good picture before. Enjoy!