Portraits: Lessons from #PhotoWeekLive

September 17, 2013 § Leave a comment

Last week was photography week on Creative Live and in case you missed it you missed a real treat. Anyhow, on day one I listened to documentary portraits by Dan Milnor and in the midst of it all found the mental clarity you will hear me talk about next week. At times I feel there is so much to running a successful photography business that I spend less an less time doing what I actually want to do which is taking pictures. But even more than that I know through my photography I want to publish books, teach, and document the lives and stories of people I photograph. In listening to Dan it began to make sense and the “business” aspect of Photography by Akili slowly began to diminish. My biggest take away was you have to make photographs for you and not necessarily for the industry market.

The industry is large, it is complicated, and it is filled with a lot of things that aren’t necessarily jaw dropping amazing work. In trying to please the industry you ascertain the skill and signature of everyone except yourself, you’re in a position of constantly trying to recreate rather than simply create. I want to be the photographer that photographs for me and while that may not be important to all of you reading this it is important to me that I remain true to why I bought my first Canon.

One thing that really stuck with me from Dan’s presentation was his discussion on portraits. He said that if you really wanted to get into the area of portraits and documentary photography to begin with children as they are relatively natural in their day to day actions and movements. So when I went home I looked through some photographs I had taken of my kids in their various stages and came across this one.

Photo credit: Latashia Martin of Photography by Akili

Photo credit: Latashia Martin of Photography by Akili

What story do you get from this image?

This photograph is of my third son. In it he is so peaceful, and content. This probably means more to me than it does to you because I know the full story so I will share some if it here. My pregnancy was more than complicated. He was just determined things were going to go his way no matter the cost. I spent countless days in fear that I would not make it to the next morning. Due to his strong ambitions he was born prematurely. He wasn’t able to stay in the room with me or come home when I left the hospital. He was confined to staying in the NICU under fluorescent lights because his blood levels were off and out antibodies ha mixed. Over four days he was pricked, probed, strapped down, and a number of other things. Nevertheless, in this image I was able to hold him and in that moment his face reflects a time when nothing else matters. To me, that is powerful. Now, granted it would have been better if I could have told that entire story through the photograph itself but that skill is still a fine tuning in the process. I will work more on my photo documentary skills though. You never know, it just might be my next creative project (like I don’t already have enough)!

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