black and white

52 Portraits, No. 20

Ben has been around since I first attempted to make a full time living at photography. We were roommates together in Denver, and I will never forget the adventures we had. Both of us moved out there on a whim without really knowing each other, and it is a season of my life that has really shaped me into who I am today, both creatively and personally. We have seen each other at our best and worse, been on awkward double dates together, and both tried out for Ninja warrior together... (seriously, scroll back through my facebook videos!)

Making Portraits

I think one of the hardest parts of being a photographer is having to connect with complete strangers in very short amounts of time. Sure, some people are easier to talk with than others, but it can definitely be challenge to gain the trust and attention of someone while also guiding them towards what I am trying to accomplish with a photo. When I shoot someones portrait, I like to get them as involved in the creative (and sometimes technical) process as they are interested in. It helps them feel like they are partnering with me towards achieving a goal, rather than just being directed towards an end result they may envision differently than I. When the subject feels like they are part of the process, they often bring ideas up that I may not have thought of that make the image that much better. Collaboration is almost always better than a single persons vision, so why not include the person you're photographing?

I wouldn't at all claim to be a street photographer, but that said, I don't shy away from asking to take a portrait of someone I find interesting. Its a great way to keep exercising my communication skills on the fly in random situations, while trying to develop a story and get a good photo. I grabbed this one while on the 5th Ave bus in NYC a couple years ago, and its one of my favorites. Ask people to be a part of your creative process, see what you learn, and how your work improve because of it.

Photo 52 Portrait Project

A few years ago I did a photo 365 project, and was really amazed at how much I grew through the project, as well as how much fun I had. I love shooting portraits, but most of my work and personal projects have always been location assignments where I am lighting people in natural backgrounds. As much fun as those are, I want to push myself to shoot more portraits in the studio on a background. Its a different way and challenge to capturing someone and tell a story. For the rest of the year I'll be shooting a black and white portrait of someone every week, and sharing on  my blog and instagram.  I couldn't think of a better person to start off with than my good friend Austin, who is actually moving out west this weekend. Can't wait to see the collection of images as a whole one year from now, or who I will meet and photograph through it.

Thanks, and have a good weekend!


Austin, Week 1, 2016