Training to Photograph Authentically
This ties into another piece that I probably care about more than any of this other stuff, which is the idea that you can train yourself to be an incredible portrait photographer by how you are when you don't hold the camera, and I don't mean that to be like this great moral lesson. I mean, literally a better photographer in terms of how you train yourself to see people we could both be looking at the same person and seeing an incredibly different level of attractiveness and the way someone hold themselves and the gracefulness of them based on just what we allow ourselves from a perception perspective. And I think often when we are back to this idea of self consciousness, about being tied up in our own head, when we're so caught up in all these concerns, it's really hard to see how incredibly beautiful somebody else's does that does that resonate with you? I've absolutely had that experience multiple times. I'm so thinking about all my things, but I can't even see how beautiful you are...
. I think tomorrow for me and I actually was I was noticing this when you were a shooting in the last segment is that you are fully present and that's that's what I was seeing. And so I was actually gonna ask you like if you're thinking about other things or if you're just in the moment they heal and are their tools are you consciously doing that all their tools that you use to get yourself there yeah I really appreciate you seeing met but it's true it's it's honestly, photography is one of the few ways that I can completely lose myself legally one of the few ways truly that where I am thinking about nothing except how did I get this frame and I mean where do you get to get out of your head like that anything but that is where most of our misery comes from is being trapped in our past in our future and all our worries and anxieties and not sure we're doing it right right now how often do you get to get away from all that I don't photography is one of the places like I really truly do that and if I had to teach it as a method I would say if you could be so fully fully focused on building this frame and you can go through this list you can think about exposure and foreground and background and meet a ring and white balance and all those things but it gets to be something that is just a joyous challenge versus a job and work then you are you're totally in it and being totally in it is amazing any of you guys have that experience yes or no? What do you say? Well, I wanted teo ask another question on top of that is a lot of times people are photographers are thinking about product and what they're going to be selling and making sure they're getting all those things while they're shooting while photographing are you how do you balance those two things? Yeah, I you know, there's complain because we're going to talk about sales on day three and and I love the selling process because I think there's so it's like a metaphor for shooting there's so many commonalities that you can just the same skill set just translate all the way through in terms of what you're looking for and how you can get really into it, but what I find is when I'm on a shoot, I'll do little things that that naturally will boost the sales process like I'll show some of the back of the camera when I'm just in love with a shot, you know, for the most part don't have you heard earlier the two girls said, let me see it. So one of the first things that she said and I said it's not really working right now because the image actually was gone, so it wasn't technically alive and I'll say, but we'll definitely look at them when we get through this that's, one of the things I say a lot, just to be able to keep people going that being said, if it does suddenly work because it's really cool, and I think it's going to be something that the client will love later, I'll make a point of showing it right there, and I do think that adds to the sales process quite a lot, but other than that, I know a lot of people are really big on pre sales meetings. I don't do those at all at all, because I feel like so much of that is getting very caught up in the specifics of what we're technically trying to get out of this, and what I want you to get out of this is just beautiful imagery that really feels like you and your family, that you can really feel the feel, the way you guys belong to each other, the way you matter to each other, how beautiful all these expressions are. I want you to look at an image that I'm giving back to you and actually feel it, and if you're thinking about framing and sizing and exactly where it goes, I can't have that exchange with you, and, ironically, for me, really focusing on all that stuff actually hurts my sale, because everybody's thinking about what to purchase and where it's going to go and and again, I know this is different than what other people dio, but I have found that by focusing on that I hurt myself because I get them out of that emotional engagement and I get them focused on a whole different side of the brain that's all about sizes and framing and purchases and it doesn't work for me it doesn't work for me and I don't like it and back this idea of self consciousness, I think one of the ways that we cover up way cover up our self consciousness is we clumsily try to overcome it by over talking by being too quiet by being maybe cat ear the normal normal making little comments here and there that doesn't really feel like us but feels like it covers all this up on dh none of that really moves us forward in terms of how to connect and being able to be closer to our subjects, which makes all the difference in the world. I think if you really coming at it from that angle, you're going to find their best angles, you know you're going to be ableto experience is amazing moments and cultivate the connection between your clients because you're so they're with them and they feel it that's one of the biggest ways we can charge to self consciousness and if I'm looking at you and you're looking at me and it looks to me like you're nervous and uncomfortable and you don't want to do and, you know, I could even try to overpower that or ignore it, but it's not gonna make any of it go away for you and it's if we could just sit down and take a breath and talk about it. That goes a long, long way. I have one of the habits I do really often with pre teens that are becoming very self aware, which we're gonna chat about in a second, and teenagers who want the shots but don't want the un coolness of being in a photoshoots, especially with their family, like if you're going to take me by myself and I could get fashionable. All right, but if I have to be here with my brother, my sister, my mom had a mop. Um, what I do in those situations is always have a conversation ahead of time. We're going to do that with lily. We have a little girl in here. I was going to do that with us have this whole conversation about addressing it head on it's like anything else in the world, if you can address it, head on and see where both people are coming from, you find a common way to better respect each other. And better work together and better appreciate each other and it's the same thing with photography I don't know why we wouldn't do it for photography because that ability to be open and express ourselves as fully as possible is how we get the better shots that's where that expressiveness comes from that's where we get those great moments and experiences so covering up the self consciousness by ignoring their vulnerability and your vulnerability go just hurts the overall package in terms of what you deliver that does mean the bottom line right there um all right so what is self consciousness uh this is uh we talked earlier about kind of having that spectrum of expression with a four six seven year old a lot of woe the ages were photographing today that is not hard to dio it is not hard to get past that self consciousness because a lot of what they're asking after you took the picture is how did it look right like we actually heard that today from at least two subjects of one who want to see it from the back the camera how did it look that starts changing when you hit those pre teen years and the question becomes how do I look which unfortunately doesn't end for a long time if ever that transition is kind of ah you know, as a mother with watching two daughters hit those stages it's almost a little painful to see I don't know if other people feel it that way that I do, but seeing them go from so free and unencumbered too, just looking in the mirror and double checking things and wanted to make sure that that looks right and what is that person say? And what do you think about me and instagram in scram and preteens and teens? It's just like a whole new world? Andi, I have found that when you're in that stage of them becoming more body aware, we're focused on how people look at them, the idea of how you photograph them changes so it's like something that's always worked now doesn't work with the same child. I photograph children from zero from inside the ballet, so, like the web and photographing twelve and half years, and I've had clients for twelve and a half years, and you watch them progress in the girl that you'd run around with and play this, and that is like, now you have to be right here, you know? You just see it happen, and you realize so much of it is that idea of I'm not sure how I'm coming across. I don't know how you picture me, and I don't know if I'm considered attractive, and I'm starting to really care about that that stage you have to approach differently, especially if you want to have those authentic looks and that feeling that really matters and what you find is the fake cheesy smile of kids that's really obvious, you know that look that's super obvious becomes a lot more subtle as people get older and older as children become preteens and teens, they're able to do that in a way that passes for natural a lot more easily and becoming better able to see what the difference is really makes a difference in terms of being able to deliver that authentic photography and an image like this for instance, that's her smile and it doesn't look over the top crazy, cheesy, etcetera, but it certainly is significantly different than something that's actually natural and riel and actually her letting go and getting out of her head. I want to get out of my head, but I need them to get out of their head and does anybody know what I mean when I say that out of your head? Yeah, just being so consumed with all the thoughts and worries and concerns. So how you technically read that I mean, you can look at that and see the difference, right? But when you're in the moment and there's a lot of noise and there's a train and people are calling him from there and you're thinking about twenty things that because becomes a really subtle difference that's hard to catch on a shoot and there's actually ways you can look for it when you're actually looking at a human face. One of the things, of course, is there's a smile that doesn't reach the eyes. Can you tell when you're looking at the eyes of the smiles, their thie other one is the tightening in the jaw, and I actually said that to a couple of kids out there right here is like, you're holding this so tight and that's a lot of that that holding a smile is really hard to dio naturally, and you can see that tightness in her jaw, you can see it loosen up, and you can see it held up a little bit more thie other thing, teo is naturally tilting forward. We do that we're actually engaged, we will naturally in ford when we're engaged, and we naturally lean back when we're not, we're protecting ourselves, it's, just something we dio. And so one of the reasons we asked our I asked people to lean forward a little bit at the waist or to help for a little bit is a it's flattering be it shows engagement and see it has that effect that when you actually smile, sometimes it starts to feel real, do you actually start to feel happier when you engage? Sometimes you tend to engage more anyway? I find children are incredibly I don't know if they're aware of it or it just works really well but when you ask them to engage in a lot more interested in you kenna you had mentioned earlier when we're out there boy kept looking over his father and I ran up to him and got right in his face that is one way of kind of making engagement happened and it's exaggerated silly way doesn't work as well with you know older people but certainly with children it's a way that force engagement with preteens and teens and when you start to have more of that trepidation making sure you communicate in the same language and talking about things they matter that matter to them makes a huge difference so the more direct that connection is and however it is that you get it the more you get that open vulnerable riel beautiful look that we're all kind of going for anyway but you can't it's tough to just start there you need time to warm up has anybody ever I've read that recommend this look a million times has anybody ever read don miguel ruiz is the four agreements one of you okay kenny you have to read that you would love it I know I have it I've started it I know what's this way had better there are only twenty years camera however long it's been around I know it's it's told like ancient toltec wisdom it's been around twenty years or something, but I think if you want to become a better portrait photographer, this is a fabulous, very short book to read because it's all about the agreements that we subconsciously make self consciousness is me looking for all the ways you're looking at me wondering what you're thinking of me while this entire engagement is going on if you if you back up a little bit further and look at that the idea of these four agreements the concept of the book is that we make there's four agreements that we should make in our life and stick teo and I'm not gonna go into the whole book, but the one point that I think is the most interesting is how much we agree with what other people say about us or what we believe they think about us and how much we make that our truth. So for instance as it relates to photography, if you are out somewhere and you smile for a photograph and someone leans forward and says you really shouldn't smile, you kind of look ungainly when you do that that's not your best look, keep your lips together when you smile next time don't show your teeth if you agree with them because you always have that choice for the rest of your life, you may never smile naturally again you will always be thinking I look terrible when I do that and we've all made these agreements throughout so many aspects of life we could all probably think about something where we heard one time and we just tacitly note given no thought to it agreed we let somebody else control our perception of ourselves for the rest of our life and that is something I see soul many times when I photograph individuals especially those that are willing to be a little bit more vulnerable who actually want to have their photograph taken but feel like they're trapped behind all their insecurities. You see these agreements they make well, this this and that's why you are you telling me this looks bad? This looks bad. This looks bag. They heard it somewhere or they thought somebody said it or they saw it in a photograph that exaggerated it because it was bad lighting or a bad angle and they agreed with it. And so if you can get to the point where you can talk to your client very, very straightforward about the things that I agree with and how you see it and how you're going to show it differently and then show it back to them differently, it could make a really big impact not just in that chute but on all the images that they end up getting taken of them arrest our life and that could start with kids and pre teens this is not just adults preachings can agree very early on about one thing someone said to them on the bus it's kind of stunning by the bus the bus thing we're new to the best system I just can't believe the things people do on the bus talking but there's a lot of leg bullying words and you know establishing pecking order and kids walk away with these ideas of things that here in late grade school in middle school and high school and has a big effect going on things like your nose is too big or small your ears er two not one side up or down or all the million things that we hear could you just tell everyone the name of the book again people were asking yes it's called the four agreements so the four agreements by don miguel ruiz and it's like this big it was actually for group it's you know what if you really feel like you'd never read it you can go online right now and just look up the four agreements and you'll find a really great info graphic I can't tell you you'll have the same amazing experience from the infographic that you'll have from reading the whole book but at least you get a head start it's it's a pretty beautiful thing if you could live your way your life under the promise of these four agreement that all fundamentally makes sense you could find that your whole outlook has changed so self consciousness and self awareness this is really interesting to me I think this is so interesting technically speaking psychologist will classify self consciousness and self awareness it's kind of the same thing once just a little bit kind of up the scale from the other and yet in our culture self consciousness is a weakness right and self awareness is a strength we think of self awareness is as equated you know toe wisdom if somebody has become really up there in terms of they see themselves very clearly and established kind of mindful attitude and and that's really different than self consciousness which means you're awkward and uncomfortable and shrinking back and yet they're kind of all on the same spectrum they change over time so this idea of with our girl lily we're going to talk teo thie idea of being able to tap into that self consciousness and actually with the realm of a small shoot turn it into a form of self awareness if you can actually have that kind of impact with your subjects and you can with just a little bit of practice you will find that a lot of that awkwardness ng uncomfortable will leave the room leave the shooter leave the field you will go into your photo shoots knowing that this is something that is now a new task ugo and you will leave your photo shoots feeling like that was fun we all got a nice break and when I go in when I tell my clients I go, we're gonna have one of the shooting and I'll talkto like a like a mother she was like, yeah, it will be fun it's going to take me twenty years ago their outfits together I've got everybody I can get it has better work I mean, you hear a lot of the same concerns every single time and I was where once you get there you're off the clock I know it takes a lot of work to get there, but once you get there you'll be off the clock and I will take over and the fun isn't about just playing games and running around and throwing things the fun is being able to address this self consciousness straight on and figure out what it is that is really holding people back from feeling comfortable in those situations and then navigating through it on by the way, this little talk we're about to have lily and I'm going through, I've never done this before, much less life. I've never done it from this level of we're going to really kind of probe into it on and I'm really excited to see how it'll turn out so before we jump into that I want to close by saying something I do believe that I really want you to walk away like there's nothing else you walk away with and hopefully there's a lot of other things. This is the one thing I really want you to walk away from this program with is the idea that if there's anything, that most limits you from freeing others from their self consciousness. It's you being trapped in yours? And so we need to start from a place where we are aware of everything. That's, that's holding us back when we're on a shoot from just feeling free and open and joyous or whatever the word is for you, being very, very aware of that, and then being able to bring that towards our subjects for subjects to have as well.