Around a few weeks ago, Light challenged me to pitch into the discussion about photography & capturing the right moment and what it feels like to be behind the lense. Being cramped with work, finishing my Master Thesis, dealing with million others things i have to apologize for not even reacting immediately. I don’t know if this post will be too late to make some kind of a difference, but it was going to be out there sooner or later anyway. So here we go.
The topic of BEHIND THE LENS got me thinking when was the last time i actually had my baby Canon in my hands purely for me, purely for the artistic value of the moment. And i don’t remember. And this in a way is really really sad, when you take something that you used to love so much, and you are trying to make a living with your hobby, with your creativity - and you can’t. Meanwhile, your work gets devalued. Your time gets lost. People don’t take you seriously. And soon enough you are dealing with people that you usually wouldn’t talk to - let alone take photos of. Not everyone can succeed in this without selling a part of yourself. And it just turns into one big mess and disappointment.
It didn’t use to be like that. Photography was my way of mirroring the bad and making it look good. The only activity that made it possible for me to completely loose myself in the moment. It was a tool of socializing, opening and making connections with people who i wouldn’t have otherwise met. I never really prepared concepts or brainstormed ideas before shooting. It was more of a way - get into the flow kinda thing. It was much more important to hit it off with the person you are shooting. Mainly, for the past 2 - 3 years i’ve been shooting people. From portraits, to a bit more fashion, to simply capturing the moments of bliss at the weddings. When it comes to people - it's about trying to find the right approach and language with somebody who might be completely different from you. That was the challenging part. If there was not a single admiring thing about the person standing in front of me - i just couldn’t do it. And no matter how awfully strange we are as people - there is always at least one good thing to find in somebody else. It’s not about being a model or looking good or knowing how to move or pose. It’s about the heart, the sparkle in the eyes. As cheesy as it sounds.
*My muse for the past 2 years. Aliya. Amazing sense of movement and grace. Taken in 2014 if not earlier*
Writing this already makes me realize how my love with photography changed not due to the camera itself or the process. I still love all of those parts. It changed because the older we get the more…protective we get of ourselves. The difference between me 3 years before was that i was much more generous with my time, with precious amounts of my time, trying to get to know the essence of the person standing in front of me, trying to recapture it. And these days, i put so much of my heart into other things that there is not that much left to give… and photography deserves 100% of your fullest efforts.
I met some of my best friends through my photos. I just came up to them and asked them if they would be up to being photographed and voila! :) Usually everyone is nervous or weird during the first 30 minutes or so. If you are shooting your friend - the trust is already there - so it takes less prep time. With newbies, i try to chatter for the first 30 minutes. I put my entertaining mode on and make jokes and just snap photos while they are still intently focused on how i’m holding the camera or too self conscious about how they are standing and asking me what they should do. I don’t like to give instructions, never really did. Some find that non helpful. My core principle is to make somebody more relaxed - or distracted - and then capture them as they are. It always looks better. With boys, you sometimes need to flirt. With girls - you just have to shower them with compliments :) After the 30 minutes the person usually starts opening up. You can see it in the posture. Sometimes after listening to weird stories about me they would also open up and tell me stories about them. I get to find out what was happening in their lives at the moment, or how everything was going on with their boyfriends.
*Naomi. Another girl i just came up to and asked if she wanted to be my model for the Magazine story i was covering.*
I had photoshoots of a fake couple that clicked after 3 hours with me and went on to date. I had the same example go horribly wrong after the photoshoot :D I had couples, girls and boys, happy moments, weird moments. I had girls get completely undressed in front of me when i was like…not asking for it. I had to say i had some fun times and my camera has seen a lot. (Some of the things it is still trying to forget :D) But….none of that compares to the feeling when you are shooting for 2 - 3 - 4 hours and when it finally clicks and you have that perfect, perfect photo. That is somehow partially how you imagined it, but in a way completely different from what you had in your mind and yet it carries your inspiration, your effort, hard work completely. That is how it feels. That is why, my friends, photography is awesome. And that is why, i’m gonna start shooting again. For fun. For me. For my memories. Annoy the crap out of the friends that i love. Because after years and years - these will be the photos that will speak from the core and soul and body and my heart - and they will not only recapture how i felt about somebody at the certain period of time….they will also recapture the essense of the person i was and the person they used to be.
*Self-portrait. Taken by my Nene*
Also, remember one thing - there are no bad models - there are just bad photographers! Feel free to follow me on facebook or contact me per email. Also check out what the crew of Light are doing - presenting us a new high-tech DSLR quality camera that will fit in your pocket and be your best friend and companion.