Saturday, October 13, 2012

Portrait of the Artist as a Young Photographer

I love taking pictures. If you hadn't realised that much by now, then I don't know where you have been. Perhaps not reading this blog or around me when I have my camera. But more than anything, I like taking pictures of people.  Wedding photos, studio sessions or just out and about around town, there is something about taking photos of people that makes me happy.

It's the hidden looks and the personality that shines through when  you least expect it. It could be during a studio session with a person who feels uncomfortable behind a camera. You shoot, you instruct, you try to bring out the best light and the best details, but the photographs are nothing without that little smile that comes with the thought of how silly this all is.

It could be during a recital when a person is singing away, part of a large group, part of a whole and you just see the music overwhelm them, you just see the joy in their eyes that comes from doing something that they love, and you manage to capture that joy in one quick shot.

It could be someone who has not even noticed you standing there, someone who is simply happy for one reason or another. You don't need to know the reason, you don't need to understand to see that the person is just simply, blissfully happy.

It's those photos that make me feel that I have accomplished something. I have a feeling that if someone were to take pictures of me taking pictures of people, that is the kind of shot that they would get. Me, at my element.

Friday, October 5, 2012


This shouldn't be a long post, or at least I don't intend for it to be one. Though, knowing me, I might end up rambling like I am right now and the post may end up being ridiculous.

There is nothing like the feeling that you get from a client's appreciation.

Every time I take photographs for someone, I like to watch them looking through them. I always wish that I had my camera with me to capture their expressions (perhaps I should start bringing it) - their smiles when they find a photograph that they truly love, their laughter and the appreciation that they feel, because words can hardly ever bring express their sentiments as well as their faces can. Of course, this works in the reverse as well. There is nothing more harrowing than watching someone flip through the photographs that you laboured over for hours in shooting and post production without so much as a polite grin. Both types of clients (almost) always thank you before heading on their way, but it is not quite the same as seeing how much they really appreciate what you have done.

For someone like me who is inflicted with terrible self-doubt and fear that she will never measure up, appreciation really does mean a lot and criticism is always taken badly. This is why I was particularly touched by what happened to me yesterday.

I have been hired on a number of occasions to take photographs for the Rhodes University Chamber Choir. It is always a little awkward for me to photograph their performances because they always perform in the same location (the Rhodes Chapel) and the photos end up looking very similar, not to mention that it is awkward photographing an event where everyone is supposed to be watching the choir and there you are clicking away distractedly and getting in the way. I have always felt that my presence has been an unwanted one - distracting both the choir members and the audience, but have tried my best to capture the events without too much distraction. I try to take pictures when the choir are at their loudest so that my clicks won't be heard, I try to stand by pillars and out of sight where possible of the audience and I try to capture the feeling of the events without taking away from them.

Yesterday, I was hired by the choir again to capture their Champs Elysses performance, which was wonderful as usual. And before the event started, one of the ladies from the choir came up to me. I froze, not knowing what to expect.

"I wanted to talk to you about something."
Oh no, my mind immediately panicked. She's going to tell me off for getting in the way. She's going to ask that I back off. She's going to be furious with me for one reason or another.
"We have never really spoken before now. But I wanted to say..."
I braced myself for the impact of whatever was to come.
"...Thank you."
I must have looked like an absolute moron, because I just stood there gob-smacked, not knowing what to say.
"I don't think that you are appreciated by us, but I wanted to let you know that I really do appreciate what you do. After seeing how other photographers have acted, when we were considering getting someone else to do this concert, I told them 'NO! It has to be Lara.' So... thank you."

For the rest of the recital, whenever she walked past me, she would give me a private smile and thank me. And it felt... inspiring. It is all too easy to feel like you are doing everything wrong, whether in your photography or just in your life in general, and the assurance that, even if just this once, you are doing things just right makes all of the difference.