it all begins with your perspective...
and your ability to connect and empathize with your client/subject/model (however you prefer to name them). I've thought quite a bit about my answer to this question I often receive:
"Katherine, your photography always feels so genuine. How do you capture this and pull this emotion out of people!?"
This is not a particularly simple answer as I have various facets of thought on the matter, but, I'm going to simplify by breaking up my answer into two parts. So here goes nuthin'...
PART ONE: HOW DO I GET THE EMOTION OUT IN THE FIRST PLACE? Simple, I put myself in their shoes. ALWAYS. I do this as a photographer and I practice this in my life in general. I truly believe in the golden rule which is; Do unto others as you would have others do unto you. So, specific to photography and as a photographer, I obviously come equipped with creative ideas in mind and concept for the shoot and inspiration, which is all very much necessary, but the results won't ever be what I imagine them to be if my subject(s) don't also embody the feelings and vision that I have in both my mind and in my heart.
My job as a lifestyle + wedding photographer begins with making the other person(s) feel comfortable so that they can truly BE THEMSELVES and show their honest emotions. Remember it's not just about you, it's really about THEM first and foremost. My goal is to have my clients basically forget that I'm holding a camera in the first place! I share my storyline and ideas with them and I describe the FEELING I'm hoping we create together. How do I curate my ideas in the first place? I ask good questions. And anyone who knows me KNOWS that I LOVE asking questions, not to pry, but because I am genuinely curious and love to learn and connect! I truly love people and connecting with others! We ALL have emotion living inside of us, even us reserved and introverted types. We ALL love to laugh and be silly and more than anything we all love feeling beautiful! Don't ever tell me 'my subject just didn't have a personality' because I'll respond with nonsense they didn't, you just didn't connect enough with them to bring it out. You didn't make it about them as much as you made it about you. That's my honest opinion.
On the flip side, we all feel nervous and self conscious at times. I know these feelings well and I know that when I'm with certain people these feelings vanish into thin air and I feel completely at ease. So what do these certain people do to make me feel that way? What qualities do they have and how do they act? The simple answer I live by is this: it's only as awkward as you make it and only as comfortable as you make it. So, I treat my clients like they're my friends and I act like myself! Remember the golden rule? Also, I truly CARE ABOUT THEM and I'm truly fascinated and curious about people in general. I know what it's like to be nervous and I know that it's my job as photographer to make them feel comfortable. And because of this, we usually DO become friends! You'd be yourself and act like yourself with your best friends right? Well that's the point here. YOU have to BE what you want to SEE and you have to do so genuinely through words and actions alike.
Think about elementary school, NOBODY wants to raise their hand first to answer a teacher's question because we ALL fear being wrong and judged and then feeling stupid. But what usually happens? Once the first kid raises his/her hand and isn't shy about whether or not his/her question or answer was right or wrong, that opens the floodgates for the rest of us to try our own hand. The point I'm trying to get across here is this: Be the first to be entirely yourself and genuinely connect with whomever you're working with.
PART TWO: Hmmm, this second half of my answer is much harder for me to put into words and I don't really think it's something I can teach per se, but it's certainly a perspective of mine I can share with you and maybe that broadens your imagination horizons and helps you see things differently as well. So here it is:
I SEE LIFE not solely for what's on the surface, but for what lies beneath the surface. It's hard to explain like I said, but it's like I can feel the pulse of life all around me at all times and within people. I don't really take things at face value. I know there's always something deeper to be found and brought to life. Not only that, but for me, life and beauty is everywhere! It's as much in the small seemingly mundane details as it is in the big obvious moments. I see the scene while feeling the emotion and what I want to portray in the moment and I see beauty, even when it's not pretty. Similarly in my personal life, I don't just see people for who they are right now, I also see the potential and possibility that lies within them, even if they don't see it themselves. So maybe the cumulation of everything I've just mentioned is how I'm able to bring these emotions into a photograph and make them feel as though they pulse with life.
I truly hope this post and my sharing of these thoughts and ideas has provided, at the very least, something new to think about. My life is dedicated to self growth and really at the end of the day, creativity knows no linear path so always just follow your heart and give the absolute best you can in any given moment xo