AUTHENTIC BRANDS BEGIN WITH AUTHENTIC STORIES
We are the rockstar heroes of our life’s journey.
You know that awesome picture of yourself that you held in your heart as a kid? I talk about it all the time. Take a second and try to remember the way it made you feel. Remember the story you wove around it, how you made yourself the hero and the way you saved the entire world right before you got called into dinner?
I LOVE that story. I love it in my subjects, and I love it in me. I’ve spent my entire life exploring it, from childhood when I would construct entire environments (and costumes) for my friends to play in, then in my years analyzing scripts as a professional costume and set designer, and in my current life as a commercial, editorial, and fine art portrait photographer. I’m obsessed. Here’s why –
I think our personal, powerful story jump starts our passions, sticks with us as we move into adulthood, and drives the genuine, authentic heart of what we ultimately choose to do with our lives.
Even if we don’t realize it is still at work, it is. It sees us clearly, cares that we are here, wants us to succeed and believes we can do it. Sometimes it sits right on the surface and shows up in everything we set our minds to. Sometimes it is a little more behind the scenes. But it is undeniably there, pulling for us, our own cheering section. Helping a subject get back in touch with that part of themselves and then asking them to share the result of it is an essential part of my portrait photography.
When I am looking to faithfully represent a likeness, it is not enough to get the lighting right, the setting, the clothing, the hair, the makeup. All of those things are helpful.
But the real necessity is seeing and celebrating a person’s deepest confidence in themselves, and the electricity that moves them through the world. That’s the interesting stuff.
We want to know the way the story has shaped you. I want to photograph it so that it’s unique beauty can be documented forever.
This idea might immediately make sense for an art portrait, or even an editorial one, but why is it important for a commercial business photograph? Well, I think of it this way. It is likely that my client is not the only business in the state (or in Boston, for that matter) in their chosen field of expertise. For most businesses, it is a buyer’s market, and we don’t convert sales the way we used to. At all. Our websites are our storefronts, and the main page is the shop window. The portraits we use are what our potential clients see when they come up to the virtual counter. We cannot help but be the face of our brand. But the good news is that our authentic selves are our strongest selling point. The one thing that a business has that sets it apart from competitors is the strength of the people that compose it, their individual views on their business and the world and most importantly, their common mission and purpose, which has a foundation in that first hero story.
When we go beyond the “good photograph” and create the fantastic photograph, the dynamic photograph, the storytelling photograph that radiates with a person’s positive intention and energy, it connects on a higher level.
The subject’s own unique character and strength invite a closer look. It doesn’t matter the profession by the way – I’ve photographed some terrifically charismatic dry cleaners. If you love what you do, it shows.
The stories that inspire us, light us from within.
And great photography is about capturing the light.