April: Portrait Photography
On behalf of the April project themed on challenges – I reveal my first portrait series! Having never done portraits – I learned a great deal in just a few shoots! I am already seeing things I could have done better and have learned a ton along the way.. but am very proud of the results of this heroic little journey!
Below are the featured portraits large, including a statement by each person about a specific challenge in their own life. Following are a few others, including one self portrait I played around with the other night!
Personal Challenge: “Divorce changed me forever and though challenging, I’m still growing from it. Pain in a relationship can lead to redemtive actions and has for me. I couldn’t recogncile my divorce with loving someone, and wondered how could I divorce someone I loved? After anger and hurt subsided (6+yrs later), I know I loved, and now, I can love better.
A message found in 1 John 4:7-21 has significant relevance to me post divorce. Loving well means not fearing being loved. Resting daily by relying on the love God has for me frees me to love others well. In my heart, I want this but often forget.”
Personal Challenge: “I grew up in a predominately white neighborhood. My parents weren’t exactly the best at speaking English, and making friends was hard during my early years. I made a few, but I was still very shy and relatively quiet because of it. It wasn’t until later on in life (college and beyond) when I started socializing more.”
Personal Challenge: “The hardest thing I do is look myself in the mirror. I used to be a bully, really. Not take your lunch money at school type bully, but just a generally toxic person who relished confrontation with anyone I could find. I didn’t realize that I was such an ass until a few years ago, and have made major changes to how I conduct myself on a daily basis. I still have a hard time accepting that people like me as a person nowdays. Sometimes I suspect their motives, and honestly sometimes I suspect my own. I guess you could say I have a hard time forgiving myself for the person I used to be.”
Personal Challenge: “After having surgery 6 years ago and loosing over 300 lbs, I still to this day struggle with my feelings about my appearance. I still see that 600lb man in the mirror every morning and hate him and what he did to my life. I know that this will be a struggle that I will have the rest of my life, but it is a burden I am happy to take on.”
The Challenge of Portraits & What I Learned:
– The biggest challenge for me with this was connecting with the person and directing them. I had no clue how to direct them.. or even really what exactly I wanted! Plus, every person is different and has different needs and you must be able to adapt to that.
– Oh the weather! What a bitch to be doing outdoor portraits in the rainiest month of the year! Mother nature smiled upon me and parted the week-long stormy weathers JUST long enough on a few Saturday afternoons for us to make this happen! How lovely.
– When asking for help, make sure you ask the right questions! I was all set to fashion this home-made studio backdrop using ladders and sheets and all sorts of things… when a photographer friend of mine messaged me saying “you know, I have a backdrop kit… would you like to borrow it?” Ha! The thought did not even cross my mind to ask if anyone already HAD a backdrop kit! I will know next time to ask a better range of questions before jumping into the most complicated version! =P
– Apparently, I’m a wee bit oversensitive to constructive criticism when trying new things. Upon finishing the final shoot, my boyfriend (who posed for a portrait) gave me some loving advice from his perspective as the one in front of the camera. I suddenly realized that I had royally sucked at giving any kind of direction during the shoot… oh my God. I’m a total failure at this! And then began the tears. Geez.. How old am I? Thankfully, moments of reverting back to being 5 years old don’t last long – and I was able to remember… “Hey now! For my first try – I did pretty darn awesome!” Like the good perfectionist I am, it also wasn’t long until I was thinking of ways I could improve upon my directing skills.. even practicing a bit this week doing some self portraits helped me to understand what I might tell someone I am shooting in the future. Practice, practice, practice!
All in all, April’s project was a very fun one! And while I don’t think I’m going to be quitting my job to go be a portrait photographer… it was a great experience and not nearly as horrific as I had anticipated. I leave you with a few other shots from the month’s journey. And of course, a GREAT BIG thank you to all of my wonderful supportive friends who were brave enough to pose for this – and even braver to include some personal stories about their own challenges. Your words added such depth to this project and are much appreciated!