Just found this clip of great Garry Winogrand talking about photography. It is amazing to see how different Venice Beach and Hollywood looked like in 1982.
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.
Sometimes life surprises you by meeting very special people. That happened to me with Michael Taylor better known as TeaPot. Michael and I became friends while I was working on my documentary photo project of Shoreditch.
This charming guy is full of stories of his life. He was born in 1945, worked as a demolition man and enjoyed life in all stages. He must have been a real heartbreaker - and I think he still is. This man is packed with happiness, even so life can hit you hard from time to time.
Last year he got sick and it must haven been tough couple of months. Now he is getting better and better which makes me very happy to see!
I was so glad to help him out a bit this time. Last year I mentioned to him, that he would be the perfect model for commercials. He liked the idea and so I called my model friend Sam who gave me a contact of a model agency. When I got back to Munich I edited some pictures of him and send a portfolio of different shots to the agency. They replied immediately and invited him for a meeting! Me and my friends from Brick Lane are so thrilled that it worked out!
...it feels so good to help! Michael is not having lots of money and this could be a jump into a second career and to polish up a bit his income. I'll keep my fingers crossed that everything is working out with the agency. I am sure they can't resist his charisma and personality.
Whenever you are around Brick Lane. Have a look around, he likes to sit in front of Brick Lane Coffee. Talk to him and asked him for pictures. Pay him a few pounds - you will get awesome pictures of him and a few stories extra! He is very special and I am so happy to know him...
I met TEAPOT while I was at Brick Lane working on my documentary of Shoreditch. He is one of the "Faces" and "Characters" around Brick Lane.
From the beginning I loved his charisma and his very blue eyes. We started to talk and I tried to find out more about him. But unfortunately my english wasn't good enough to understand his accent. I told him, that he is such a character and I could imagine seeing him in a commercial.
A week later, I was on a photo walk with my friend Draycat from Tokyo, I met TEAPOT again. A film team was filming a documentary about him. Take a look at the first Promo Edit.