Connectivity & Authenticity

Most photographs you will see in your lifetime are of strangers. Individuals whom you have never met or will never see again can feel familiar when a photographer can translate something personal to and even intimate about the subject. The master stroke is when you can learn something about yourself while caught in the trance of a great portrait but thats another topic.

A trademark of a good portrait makes you forget that your are looking at photograph. You know when you are looking at a great portrait when that stranger looking back at you feels familiar. If the photograph sparks an emotional connection, recalls memories or seems to suspend time because it caught you and turned what otherwise would be a quick glance, into a long lasting vacant stare.

It is for this reason I find the pursuit of the perfect portrait one of the most rewarding challenges in photography. It is analogous to the surfer’s lifelong hung for the perfect wave. That is my personal philosophy behind it. My methods of this pursuit are under constant evolution but there are some techniques that I have come to understand very well.

An authentic connection between you and your subject will inherently translate to an authentic connection between your subject and your audience. This is not a photographic technique, its a human trait. Empathy is rarely mimicked successfully from a non-sociopath. To help inspire a connection, as a photographer how you control the set is key. Think of what it must be like to have your photo taken for hours a day. Despite you being a professional photographer, you are still a stranger. Having your photo taken by a stranger, in a room full of strangers inspires a bit of anxiety so you need to do everything you can to curb the anxiety. A calm, clean fun atmosphere is a good first step. Music, friendly atmosphere and a lack of chaos on your set are key elements. To achieve a real rapport and connection once you begin shooting I rely on a proper lens choice. My 85mm, compared to other portrait lens’ is my lens of choice as it allows a closer proximity between me and whomever is in front of me. Other portrait lens’ though may have unique light and bokhen qualities, they can require upto 20’ of distance and a detachment to person in-front of your camera. It is a simple element but one of the most important. Do not take it for granted.

Along with this post are a few shots an impromptu shoot at my studio with Nalani Ravelo and Candice Hynson.

  • Alejandro Martinez - Photography
  • Nalani Ravelo - Modeling / Wilhelmina International
  • Candice Hynson - Wardrobe Styling
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