There’s a big difference between capturing someone as they are and modeling someone to appear as they are. Does that make sense? One of my friends I was photographing said something that caught my attention during our first time making portraits. She said that last time she was photographed the pictures came out feeling fake. Like the person in those photos wasn’t her. She didn’t feel like those photos were portraying her as she was.

I’ve always strived to reach this balance between me and my subjects. Clearly, I have my own artistic goal or task I want to achieve with the given session. Yet I find it equally important to mold those tasks with the way my friends would like to appear in the photos. There should be no difference in the importance of the photographer to the importance of the subject’s input. The final product should be an amalgamation of both desires in order to produce emotionally charged photos.

At first, it can be rather awkward sure, they have this idea that a photoshoot is very guided. As if they are the clay I’m supposed to mold as I see fit. So when you tell them, do as you’d like in this space they kind of shoot back with a blank stare. No matter how comfortable you are with a person there’s always this “break-in” time where both parties feel out of place. Yet the more you talk to your subject, the more you break that barrier of “photographer” and “subject”, the better the photo. That back and forth provides an opportunity to see who they are and what is natural. I believe that this natural state is the best state. This is what gives a photo character, a sense of personality as if the photo could almost talk to you.

Well, that’s my spiel. The 5 photos above are from the last shoot me and my friend had. They were going to take their final year at school abroad, and so the next time I’d see them would be at their graduation. There were 2 sections to this shoot. One, I have a long-term project in mind that is going to be on black and white film. The second, which are the images you will see now, are from after. I decided to shoot them on CineStill 800T as I wanted to see what all the hype was about. Everything I saw on it was about the way it made artificial lights look. So I gave it a shot as I like to mess around with colors in the light studio here at my college.

~ Tomas

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About the author

Tomas R. Medina Arriaga

I'm a student at Bennington College. I take photos of what I like to look at. Emotions are what I strive to portray.

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