A Letter About Portrait Photography

Portrait photography is my favourite genre but it’s interesting how different I feel depending which side of a lens I find myself on. This is my letter to the photographer and the photographed, mentioning some of my thoughts.

Dear Me

You walked away when group shots with friends and colleagues were being taken, because you were self-conscious. Now when photos of those days are laughed over, it is as if you were never there. That’s a pity. Learn to relax in front of the camera … instead of always hiding behind it!

Dear Family
Portraits will pass through the generations acting as a catalyst for serious or light hearted discussions between relatives. Make it a priority to take photos at family gatherings. We never know when we’ll next see each other and holding a recent photo of you in my hand is the closest I can get to a hug sometimes.

Dear Friends
I’d like photos of you all. I don’t mind your blemishes or the extra inches. Looking at you reminds me of special times together; confidences shared and the support we have given one another. But out of respect, if you really don’t want your face photographed I will treasure an image of your hands instead.

Dear Young People
I love your confidence and that you like to experiment! That’s what makes portrait photography fun.

Dear Person with a camera

There’s a fine line between capturing a moment for eternity and spoiling it. Be sensitive to those who do not like a camera being swung around and kind to those you have photographed. And when the occasion is over please do us all a favour and destroy any embarrassing or non-flattering images.

Dear street photographer

Humans are dynamic and fascinating. There are a hundred good reasons for street photography. But I hope the person behind the camera considers carefully the ethics of taking a photograph. Snapping strangers in compromising situations, in my opinion, crosses a line. *  

STOP.

If in doubt, don’t press the shutter.

* Street photography is a strange concept at the moment – and capturing emotions doesn’t work the same with masks so I’m looking forward to a time beyond the virus when we can all see each other’s expressions again.

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