I am very comfortable behind a camera. As a matter of fact, I think I took up shooting as a youngster because it was a way for me to watch the world around me without having to commit to participating. I was painfully shy in my youth and very uncomfortable in my own skin even around my own family. I loved landscapes and portrait work even at an early age. A camera allowed me to view the world in my own unique way and share it with those around me.
What did I hate most once I got old enough to be self-conscientious? Being IN FRONT OF THE CAMERA. For the longest time, I hated having my photo taken. Pretty ironic considering I loved photographing others. So when my friend N told me she was interested in having me photograph her but that she was a bit uncomfortable with a lens in her face, I knew what she was talking about.
N and I were out for a glass of wine. She'd seen my work on Flickr and here on my blog and thought if anyone could make her feel comfortable in front of a camera, it would be me. She wanted portraits for her husband and family for Christmas and she wanted the images to be richly saturated and bright. My speciality!
Knowing that her first pick for a location would be VERY public, especially the first weekend of December when Balboa Park is filled with Christmas decorations and December Nights participants, I suggested a small neighborhood park in my area instead with a plan to take a trip back to my home "studio" for a few lit shots as well. The day was overcast as rain had visited on and off throughout the prior evening which was, in fact, perfect! Seriously. It makes the sky one big softbox.
The best compliment came a few days after the shoot when I sent N two "sneak" peek photos in an e-mail (she wanted to wait to see the entire take but I couldn't help whetting her appetite!). She couldn't believe it. She said these were the first photographs of herself that she had ever liked. About an hour or so later I got a second e-mail saying she was really psyched to see the entire take.
Christmas night, I got a lovely e-mail from her husband thanking me for capturing not only the beauty and perfection that he sees in his wife every time he looks at her, but for also capturing her inner joy and creating images that N could feel great about.
What an honor.
And that's why I love taking portraits.