In the past when I photographed people, I used to prepare obsessively. I made moodboards and looked through tons of poses that would fit with the person.
While there’s nothing wrong with that per se, I would rely too heavily on those poses and was setting an expectation in my head of what the photo was supposed to look like before the shoot even started.
The result being that most of the time I wasn’t open to influences that the person and/or the environment were bringing to the shoot.
Once I made that realization, it didn’t make sense anymore to use moodboards or poses.
One day, I decided to do the exact opposite: I went in blind. Instead of relying on the moodboard and poses, I relied on Sarah (the first person I tried this with) to “reveal the image”.
Before I even took a picture of her, I started talking to her and I started to form a picture in my head of who she was.
During our talks, she said this: “This is very strange for me, the only times that I’m naked is when I’m in the shower or with my boyfriend. I’m only nude during intimate moments."
For some reason that quote got stuck in my head and I ran with it. Every picture I took was geared to illustrate that quote.
From that shoot, this is the one I'm most proud of:
At first, I didn’t like this image, because it’s not very flattering, yet it still grabbed my attention.
Later, I showed this photo to Richard (a great photographer and even greater friend) and explained my concerns. He said “Why are you worrying about the image being flattering? You never flatter people”.
I even showed the image to Sarah, again explaining my concerns, but she loved it anyway! Even though it wasn’t flattering. Weird right?
I was trained to believe that people only like flattering images of themselves. This whole experience and Richard and Sarah's feedback opened my eyes. I started looking back at my old pictures and I indeed notice that the ones that I really like, the ones that caught my attention, weren’t the ones that were always flattering.
They had something else about them, and in trying to explain what that something is, I started a new project centered around vulnerability and balance. I will go more in depth with this project in a later blog post.
What I’m trying to say with this is post is this: Try relying more on yourself and the person/object you’re photographing to determine what the picture should like, instead of what those who you look up to have done so well.
You might find that you'll discover a lot more about that person and about yourself that way.