My friend, Debbie asked about my process with portraits after following the images in the LTS blog. This has helped me start to conceptualize the idea that I am drawn to people who communicate what I am calling Presence and so I engage them and then go on to take the photo when I see them ‘present’.
On reflection I think that when I am engaged with their presence they recognize that (actually I get really excited and delighted so its not hard to miss) so they rarely resist. It seems to me that people are more likely to feel uncomfortable when there is a more purely voyeuristic process and I am seeing them as ‘curiosities’ rather than a more honoring engagement.
The more portraits I make the more it is obvious that there are, after all, 6 billion people so collecting ‘heads’ (like stamps) that don’t at least show the person rather than just their curiosity value is essentially boring. I also have learnt to relax more so that if people would prefer I didn’t take a picture I (almost) don’t mind at all.
I guess my work as a therapist has trained me to notice when certain aspects of the person are present however fleetingly, though I think most people have this capacity but may not identify it. Debbie asked about a ‘sort of stripped down intimacy’ and I think it is an intimate process. Maybe psychotherapy and some aspects of photography can share this engagement in what is real and present.