It’s school picture time again, and as I look at this year’s shot of my daughter against a boring grey screen, I hardly recognize her. I see nothing of her personality or spirit. Yes, I recognize her features and the fake smile that she puts on when she’s getting her picture taken, but it’s clear she’s not feeling it. My goal as a photographer is to capture the essence of my subject–not just what they look like but who they are. No offense to school photo photographers, but you just don’t get that connection when you’ve only got 30 seconds with each client.
When I photograph people, I try to connect with them. I’ll ask questions to get them to relax and open up. With kids, I’ll also give them space to do what they want to do. I’ll also give them games or challenges. Who can jump the highest? Can you imitate your favorite superhero? Then when they’ve burned off some of that energy, I might take a break and ask them a question or two. It doesn’t take long before even the shyest kid is begging me to “Take my picture when I do this!”