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What is my "intention"?

Updated: Nov 23, 2022

My intention is to make a fabulous photo of you!

There are three interdependent factors involved in this. The first and perhaps the most important is emotion, without the emotional part, the image, is nothing like so good.

The second is the "listening", I'll explain later, then the technicalities.

The most important part of making a photo is the emotion it portrays, this is what make's it a good photograph. It's the emotion that enables the photo to stir our memories, weeks, months and even many years later.

An emotional photo of a landscape is largely about what is present in that scene and the light/cloud in the scene. The landscape does not move too much, but the light does, and its the light that stimulates the emotion.

Creatures move - damn! They move all the time. Trying to capture the emotion of a dog or a horse is about timing and patience. Waiting for the expression, that we are after, to appear.

Humans are a whole different ballgame, infinitely more complex. To capture the emotion of a scene with a human, I have to get to know you. We have to work out together, what it is that we are trying to capture - that's the biggest question!

The second bit "the listening" is inexorably intertwined with the first. I have to listen to you to find out what it is that you want. It seems that a lot of people don't know what they want from a photo session, they just want a photo!

I have a good number of ideas, and I am happy giving guidance to help with this. However, ultimately, particularly in portraiture, it is you, the sitter that must be happy with the end result!

What clothes do you want to wear, they will set the overall tempo of the shoot, your hair, any makeup you might want, jewellery, hats, scarfs and any other props we might need. This needs to be preplanned, so that everything that we need for the shoot is available on the day. By the time that day eventually arrives, I would like to have met with you already. Sometimes this is not possible, so we have a lot of chatting to do, I need to get to know you! The better I get to know you, the quicker we get to making good images. I actually find it quite uncomfortable trying to start taking the photos before we are ready.

To make this work there is "the listening" I must listen to you with intent. I must read your emails and texts, make notes about our conversations. When we do meet in person, I must listen carefully to what it is that you actually want - this is what the coffee is for!

If you are not sure, we plan it all together. This, despite all my planning, is what usually happens.

The last part of the trilogy is the technical bit. This includes the camera with the correct lens, the lighting, the venue, backdrops etc and all the different poses that we will use. Some people have a good overview of what they want, most don't. So while we are drinking our coffee we will create a "storyboard" of the scene as we want to photograph it.

Now back to emotion, only once all of this stuff is in place and working, can we set about making a proper photo, a photo where the emotion can be seen in that image. I have often taken 200 or more photos before the true feeling that I am trying to capture, actually starts to shine through. That's just the way it is!

This image of Rosa was after 45 minute of shooting, but my third set with her.

The one above is after 33 years of photographing Joanna!

By setting out the "intent", which is to make a beautiful image of you, and then how we intend to make that image, the process becomes much clearer, much less daunting (or indeed scary) and much more comfortable. It's a seemingly complex process with many different aspects combining together, to eventually make the image.

My "intention" is to make that image of you, fabulous!

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