In very low light in an indoor arena—with limited space to move and not block the view of spectators, and no room for a tripod—I coiled my body and braced myself best I could, using a relatively high ISO and a shutter speed fast enough to compensate for movement by me and the subject. Because it was a public event, there were lots of cameras, and the man wasn’t particularly bothered by me curled in a ball trying to make a picture. After photographing him, I approached and explained who I was and why I was focusing on his face.
In formal portraits, the subject sits and poses for a picture, usually under lights with a backdrop. Candid portraits are where the subject is unaware of the camera or ignores it. There is no posing, no choreography.
I am much better observing life and human nature—seeing expression and subtle emotion—than manipulating lighting and subject in a studio.
Photographers such as Annie Leibovitz command large sums for their controlled portraits. I can do studio portraiture—not like Leibovitz—but I find greater joy in catching natural expression. I am more of a hunter than a builder. Both types of portraiture have challenges.
Just as each photographer sees something different, each viewer interprets an image differently depending on background, experiences, prejudices, likes, agenda or even mood.
We make judgments about people based on facial expression. A fleshy container for the past and present, the human face can say so much. I see pride and dignity in this face—a wisdom that comes only with age.
The low angle reinforces this strength—a technique I often employ. The long lens allows me to see the eyes and muscles in the face, a contrast to the sharp shape of the feathers.
Take a candid portrait, preferably from the profile, that reveals a gesture or expression.
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