Click! A Fraction of a Second to Change Your Life.
I make no secret. When I picked up a camera first, I was terrified. Scared beyond belief to take photographs of people. I was the master of Malahide Castle Images & the champion of Howth Harbour. Or so I thought.
All the while I would shy away from photographing people. After all, Malahide Castle or Howth Lighthouse weren't going to be offended or tell me they looked fat.
Over time I faced my fears, starting with photographing family and friends. Then weddings and some fashion and magazine work until 21st December 2013. Winter Solstice.
Meet Briain (For those tuning in from outside of Ireland, Pronounced Bree-an),
On a very cold day in December 2013 my photographic career changed. In 1/160th of a second there became nothing between Briain and I. The camera became invisible as he stood for the second of two photographs. The first without his hat.
As he stood for the first image, I noted a slight familiarity in his face. His small frame and posture reminiscent of Sinatra. Click. His daughter interjected. "Can we put his hat on? He looks like a gangster with it!" "Of course" I laughed.
As they searched for the hat, I continued to shoot. One man, One camera and One light.
As he entered the room again with the hat, I caught the eye of my colleague Dave. He smiled with begrudging approval knowing something different was about to happen.
Briain stepped forward. I positioned him under the light and adjusted it to compensate for the position of the hat. Making sure to tilt the brim slightly for dramatic effect. I stood back behind the light, took my breath and focused the camera. The sound of the heavy 85mm lens rolling like a glass ball across floor boards. Briain's face coming out of the blurred darkness with cinematic grace.
I don't recall what I said. Held my breath and smiled. My face masked behind the giant black body of the Canon 1DX. Click
"We done?" he asked. "We're done" I said as Dave walked across the room. Abandoning all else. I looked to Dave who without saying a word was asking Well? I nodded approvingly. "It's special". My only words.
Before they left, I asked Briain and his daughter would they mind if I used it as part of my portfolio. Getting him to sign a release. All the while that moment. Solidified in my mind. Playing back over and over.
Getting home at almost 1am that night, I pulled the images off the camera just to see it on my IMac Screen. With some quick editing to bring it closer to what we see with the human eye it was done.
In the days that followed. The emails came one after the other. After he was shared by Canon to the world at large. Online Photography Journals and websites asked could they feature. Two of which featured on Christmas Day.
Click. 1/160th of a second. Click. An epiphany. Since then, this fraction of a second. I have stood five feet from every face I photograph. Searching for that sense of connection. Where the big black camera all but dissolves.
As photographers we are indebted to the faces we shoot. We need to look beyond the superficial, to share the substance. Finding genuine, reactive expressions that are based on trust.
How you walk in the skin you wear is your decision.
Why not embrace it?
What other choice do you have?