Vulnerability, the Camera and a few Tips

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The Preface to most sessions…

“Hi! I hate having my photograph taken. Your work is amazing, but this is going to be really difficult for you!” … and Go!

Having been at this a while, I’ve heard this at most of my sessions with first time clients. And I understand. There’s no hiding in front of the camera. But, typically, after about 10 minutes, the studio visit loosens up and we can throw caution into the wind and have a fantastic session. I love hearing, “That was fun! I didn’t know I could look this good!” at the end of a session.

Believe it or not, I’m not crazy about having my photo taken either. It takes something to be in front of the camera, even for seasoned models. We’re all self conscious about our bodies, and the camera can certainly highlight those insecurities. This 3×3 is my face over the last year. I could immediately tell you all the imperfections, but in the end, what makes a good photo is that vulnerability.


So what is vulnerability?

When a potential client comes to me to talk about having a session, they are opening up both to me and to my camera. As you’ve noticed, I lean toward the editorial side of portraiture. Capturing the subject as the masterwork they are, details and all. I try to help the client feel comfortable and open, and yes, vulnerable, in front of the camera, in order to capture them in their truest form.

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But vulnerability in a photo is more than being open, the person in front of the camera needs to trust me. Each individual has his or her own challenges to face when being truly authentic in front of the camera, and building a genuine relationship – helping the model put down their guard – is the only way to create authentically.

Make no mistake, sometimes we only have 5 minutes together to build that rapport. But once you’re in the studio, all the inner chatter subsides within minutes and we’re finally able to create your Rembrandt, baggage and all.


Tips

Photo shoots move quickly, with little time to get into our most vulnerable and authentic zone, so you’ll want to feel your best and most confident before getting in front of the camera. Our bodies are affected by just about everything we do, so the day before and the day of are paramount to providing the best experience and image.

  • Pamper yourself before hand. If you know you’re going to be in the studio that day, create as little stress before or after your session. You want your headspace to be clear. A big meeting before or after your shoot only brings that lingering energy into the session. A morning workout, yoga, a relaxing breakfast are all great ways to prep to be with me. Do not fly in 2 hours before our shoot. You will be a mess.
  • Try not to poison yourself too much the night/week before. Your skin and connective tissue have a direct correlation to alcohol, drugs, and our favorite poison of all, stress. The night before, if you can, abstain from these, as well as stay hydrated. Your eyes and overall face will love you so much more the next morning. If possible try a light cleanse the week prior. Cut down/out dairy, gluten, sugar and amp up on the water intake. A week of this and you’ll notice a considerable difference in your skin.
  • Don’t over pack. More is sometimes just more. If you’re coming in to shoot in one outfit, don’t bring in five outfits to choose from where three will do. I love shoes. I really mean that. But bringing a separate suitcase for your collection will, A.) only exhaust you from dragging it all over creation, but also B.) mentally exhaust you from having to choose and be satisfied with your decision come camera time.
  • Google/Apple Maps is your friend. Whether you’re photographing with me in New York, Chicago, or China, traffic is traffic. Make sure you leave plenty of time before hand to get the studio. The added stress of wondering if you’ll make the shoot on time will cause you to be more anxious, perspire more and not be fully present with me. Not a great way to start a shoot, just to save a few minutes. Come on over earlier. I have coffee. You’ll be fine.
  • And finally, Treat Yo Self! Photo sessions with me provide high amounts of Endorphins, Cortisol, Epinephrine, and Sex Drive. If you’re dolled up for our shoot, make sure you take all that energy and fine fashion and hit the town with your guy, gal or crew! There’s nothing worse than feeling your best and wasting it on office work that can wait till tomorrow.

All this is to say, your mindset and level of comfort are equally as important to having a good photo session as your hair and makeup. If you take time to calm your mind and feel comfortable with yourself, you’ll not only have a more enjoyable experience, but you’ll be better equipped to be with with me in our moment in front of the camera, looking your best and completely open for creativity. Suddenly all that minutiae won’t matter and we’ll be free to make art!

Happy Prepping!

Aleks