I am an observer! I love to observe the daily life and shoot pictures being invisible. My goal is getting always the most intimate moment of the people I take photos of, to get powerful images which tell a great story. But how can I have this outcome when shooting a portrait?
A few weeks ago I was in Italy stopping by my photographer friend Luciano Bonacini. I know Luciano for a couple of years now and I am a huge admirer of his photography. He is running his little gallery in Malcesine at Lago di Garda. Lucianos work is presented in diverse international museums and 1993 and 1994 he won the First Prize of best italian Portrait Artist.
Lucianos work is 100% analog, mine 100% digital. We always have a great chat about analog vs. digital. It's always nice seeing him and exchange our ideas & visions on photography.
I mostly end up shooting some portrait shots for him. Same this time! I had my Leica M8 with me with an old 40mm Summicron, which is like a 50mm on the M8. 50mm is not my preferred focal lengths and so it was a bit of work to get everything into the frame the way I wanted.
Shooting a portrait of Luciano made me think about portrait shooting more in detail. As a street photographer or photojournalist I shoot out of the situation. There is no preparing, no set up of the scenery - just a milli second to decide. This is what I love most of my work, that you never know what's gonna happen! Shooting a portrait is totally different. The object (person) knows exactly that there is a camera pointed at themselves - people mostly feel uncomfortable, insecure and put a mask on their face. If this happens - I don't get the shot I want. My goal is ALWAYS to get the person behind their mask!
Working with Luciano is always fun - he is a great teacher, gives lots of advice and has me try to find the right direction of the picture. He is very easy to shoot, knows exactly how to pose, how to look to get the perfect expression out if him.
Here are a few tips he gave me that I would like to share with you:
1. Make the person feel as much comfortable as you can and relax.
2. Trust your guts... Do some research of the person you shoot the portrait of before you start
shooting - but sometimes it also better to trust your guts.
3. Have an idea or vision before you start shooting the person. Some ideas might come while
you are shooting - but sometimes the person is busy and doesn't have enough time and so it
is always good to have an idea what the picture should look like.
4. Communicate with the model and give directions.
... and finally have a good sense of humor. A good laugh always helps!
Here are the shots I took of Luciano.