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Writing + Photography

Memoirs and musings of Darius Bashar. Toronto portrait photographer and writer, in pursuit of all things real, raw and intimate. 

Portrait #004 - Turtle

Portrait 004 had a few lessons that have helped a great deal with future shoots. The most important lesson was that a happy model does not necessarily guarantee you happy (looking) photos. 

If you know Turtle (AKA Faramarz Hashemi), you know that he's one of the most optimistic, happy dudes on the planet. He's always saying something nice about people or telling you an epic story about some incredible synchronistic adventure. 2 mins alone with him and you'll be able to see the magic that exists throughout the Universe. 

Something very interesting happened during our shoot. I'd be talking with him and that loveable Turtle that I knew would be totally present, but the moment I'd bring the camera up to my face, he'd immediately (and subconsciously) default to a very sombre and subdued pose. This happens a lot, especially with non-actors and non-models. It's very typical. They have no idea they are doing it. The moment you bring your camera down they usually revert back to their normal selves. It's such a fascinating phenomenon to witness. It can also be super frustrating if you can't work around it. The solution is simple. You need to get them out of their head. I've found this is best accomplished through a strategic mixture of Confidence + Distraction + Flow

a) CONFIDENCE: You need to find authentic moments and actionable feedback to sprinkle in as early as possible to get them feeling confident. The key is not to over praise them. If you tell them every shot is "great" then they will eventually become numb to your encouragement and lose trust in you. 

b) DISTRACT: Give them activities to do that will get them out of their own head (genuinely engage them in conversation, get them to pick the playlist, have them tell you a story, make them laugh, etc)

c) FLOW: Sometimes even if people are taking bad photos, I'll just keep shooting and progressively get faster and faster. The idea is to shoot faster than that little voice in their heads can speak. You need to pace yourself with this and make sure your not tiring them out. Each person will have a different ideal flow speed. It's your job to find it and push them to their limits, without exhausting them too early. 

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