Portrait #011 - Raad "Parallax" Seraj


MODEL: Raad "Parallax" Seraj


I always ask my models to curate the music for portrait shoots. This was a lesson carried forward from shoot #005. I do this for a few reasons. 1) It allows people to get comfortable, through music that is familiar to them. 2) It gives a nervous model something to do and temporarily takes their mind of the shoot. 3) Very selfishly - I get to hear new music all the time. :P and 4) Music is a gateway to going deeper emotionally and if used properly, it can also be a time machine. This last point was definitely the case with Raad. The most memorial moment for me, was when he played Sigur Ros and told me a very personal story connected to that song. Essentially, Raad shared with me, where that song took him back to. I was moved by his story and felt my own emotions coming up to the surface. I asked him if he could play that song again. We ended up listening to that particular song a few times in a row. Overall this shoot had a very tender and somber tone. A lot less talking than most of my shoots, but it always felt right. We left space for that moment, our moment, to breathe. It was like our souls were standing side-by-side at a Sigur Ros concert and were swaying together - taking in the music and the experience, in its entirety. There were long stretches of time in which no words were needed. 


I tell everyone I work with about my 70-30 rule. I meticulously plan out 70% of every shoot, but intentionally leave 30% totally empty. When a new person walks through my doors and our energies start interacting, that 30% starts to fill up. Each person is different, so that 30% is always unique. For some people their 30% is really loud and easy to identify, but not always. 

The lesson I discovered in this shoot was that sometimes the 30% is subtle. Neither is better or worse. A subtle 30% can actually be just as powerful as a loud one. I just need to be mindful to really pay close attention, as it will look and feel different for everyone. This is also probably one of my favourite things about Portraits, as it keeps me excited and requires me to genuinely care about each person.