Portraiture: What’s going on in there?


Having just completed a shoot with the owner of Bristol Décor; Ian Kozlowski, a sitting for his company profile picture

(www.decor-bristol.co.uk) , I was lucky enough to inadvertently catch a few comments from his colleagues when they saw the finished shots. One of the comments really resonated with me, ‘I thought it was just a point and click exercise, but these are alive with character!’.



To quote the great Annie Leibovitz:

“In a portrait, you have room to have a point of view. The images may not be literally what’s going on, but it’s representative.”

That point of view is exactly what separates ‘sit and click’ portrait photography from ‘creative’ photography.

Anyone can pay a visit to a high street studio and have a portrait done in no time at all. Hey, you may even get a choice of backdrops and be asked to embrace a number of poses for a bit of character!

Let’s be honest though, that’s hardly going to capture the real essence of YOU! Of course it will be you, but a one-dimensional interpretation.

I don’t use a studio to shoot my clients. By visiting them in their own environment they can immediately be at ease. I’m on their territory now and that level of comfort will shine through in the finished product.

The backdrop isn’t ‘off-the-shelf’ it’s their own, be that relaxing at home, industrious at work, soaking up the sun in the garden or posing proudly in a cherished vintage motor. The point being, our surroundings say so much about us, a reflection of our own character that ultimately puts us at ease.

In this relaxed environment, I can effortlessly coax a naturalness from my clients that enables me to capture their individuality through body language, movement, facial expressions and so much more (I’m not going to give away all my tricks of the trade!).

Funnily enough, often the greatest barometer of success comes when family or friends see the end result. I’ve been lucky enough to be in the background when comments like “That just captures you, it really shows off your warmth”, “You can really see the different characters of the children coming through” and “Your personality really shines through, it’s why we all love you”.

A great portrait really stands the test of time, it’s so much more that a simple pose and click, it’s a moment in time that reflects the complexities of the subject and summarises all the qualities that make us what we are.

So next time you see a portrait ask yourself whether the photographer helped answer the question ‘What’s going on in there?’

As the sun shines, it’s the perfect opportunity to commission a portrait of you, your loved ones, or friends of both the 2 and 4-legged variety.

Ribbet collage portrait