Portrait #003 - Pacman
For Portrait #3 I experimented with asking my collaborator (AKA the person I'm taking photos of) to think about different people in his life and key moments in his past that were filled with emotion. Not sure where I got this idea, might have been film school, but the results were not what I expected. Surprisingly the darker topics actually produced softer facial expressions and vice versa for the happier topics.
The other lesson for this shoot was that as a photographer you need to make a decision early about your shooting style, regarding authenticity. There are lots of tricks and tips that allow you to get a specific look out of a model. For example, you can get a deeper person to look light and friendly by cracking some jokes or posing them in certain angles. This is great for headshots, which in general are intended to be utilized as a promotional tool for your clients (eg. actors headshots, LinkedIn profile photos, etc).
Personally, I believe portrait photography serves a different purpose. For me, I am willing to forego standard poses in order to chase what I believe to be the true personality of the person in front of my camera. That's why I take my time and strive to have genuine conversation with each person. Being in front of a camera, especially this type of in-your-face studio lighting is very intimidating. It takes time for people to feel comfortable and for us to build trust. That can't be rushed,
The other lesson I learned is that for this to be an honest conversation it needs to go both ways. I can't ask people to open up and be vulnerable, if I'm not willing to take that same plunge and get raw with them. This part can be scary, but if it comes from a sincere place it can also be cathartic and allow you and the person in front of your camera to have a genuine connection.
With Pacman (AKA Ryan Pakyam) it was quickly obvious to me that he had a unique mixture in his personality of strength and tenderness. If you know the guy, which I am lucky to say I do, you know he is one of the kindest dudes you will meet. If there's a way for him to make your life easier, he's there in a heartbeat. He isn't the loudest guy in the room, put his presence is always felt and appreciated. The other thing that caught my interest about Pacman was this deeper reflective energy that kept coming through in the photos. When you look into his eyes you get a sense that there are many untold stories and that this is a brother with great depth.
Thank you Pacman for your patience and for your support!