Today I wanted to talk about the deeper meaning behind photos. I thought that it would be a good idea that I get another persons perspective and build off it. I will be posting a link post, where I will be summarizing the topics of a specific blog post and I will elaborate on it, adding my original content that the original post did not include.
The link to the original blog post is below:
The blog post that I have chosen to write about is called “More Than Smiles” by David duChemin. This blog is saying that there is much more to a picture than just trying to get the subject to smile.
David is trying to say smiles, as universal as they are, do not tell the whole story or express the full emotion of a person or their race.
We as photographers, often try to use laughter to get people on the other side of the camera to smile. We should do this in some cases, but not all. It is important to let the person be who they really are and to express what feelings they are feeling.
People come to the camera and are nervous and are unsure what to do so they hold back. They are holding something about themselves back. They are not allowing themselves to be who they really are behind the camera. David is saying that we all do this though.
David wants us to use selfies as an example. In so many of them, the people pose and in a certain way, put on a mask, or be someone who they really are not. They are pictures of ourselves, but not about ourselves.
When David took pictures in Kenya, he had his subjects sit down in front of him, with his translator at his side and they talked about their lives. David asked the subject what their family was like, if they had kids, and their challenges.
From this David asks his subjects to smile, and laugh on point. In return, he gets a fake smile or a fake laugh because it is not genuine. The subject then starts to see how silly this is too. The subjects start to see that forcing a smile or laugh may not be the best way to capture the emotion behind a person in a particular point in time.
After the subject notices this, they begin to smile and laugh, meaningfully! They do this because something genuine has surfaced! That is all that the photographer is looking for. Just small shots of genuine moments.
This is also where David takes a majority of his shots. He takes them when the subject least expects them. He takes them when the mask is off of the subject and they are acting as who they really are.
During some of David’s shoots, he tries to bring the people to empathy and compassion more than pity. In this case, when photographing people from Kenya, it would be very easy to show those people that they are very poor and there are better places in the world.
Although that is not the point here. The point is to embrace the circumstances in which the people are in and to not think about anything else. The photos are to be about the subject, not of them.
In this blog, I feel that David duChemin did a very good job of describing how to find the deeper meaning behind taking pictures. It is important that we focus on the subject rather than the surrounding distractions.
One topic that I would like to build off of are that the photos are supposed to be about the subject, not of them. This is a very simple but strong statement.
When taking a picture of a subject, the picture should have to relate to who the person really is. It should not matter what background they have or where they are at in life. It should just be about that moment in time and express the feelings that the subject is feeling.
I believe that getting people to smile is a great way to show happiness in a photo, but after reading this, I think that it would be very important for the subjects to simply act how they are feeling at the current moment.
A photo should not have the impulse behind it saying “I hope others like this picture. Is it good enough?” A photo should be captured at the last expected time. I saw this because when a camera catches us off guard, we are acting as who we really are in that particular moment.
A smile and laughter may not capture the whole emotional gamut of a human race. This is because the smile and laugh is not real. I believe that instead of having a photo shoot, sometimes it might be better to not tell anyone that you are there and just take pictures from the outside.
Yes, make sure you have permission first. But the main point is to not tell the subjects or give them an idea of when you will be taking the picture. This way, the subjects can carry on as themselves and not have to put on a mask for the camera.