• Victoria Bowers

Capturing The Real You

Updated: Nov 20, 2019

I spend a lot of time getting to know my clients, not just their personality but their lifestyle and even how they might be feeling at that moment in time. I do this for one simple reason; to capture the person as they are.

Taking a portrait sounds easy; you sit the subject down, set up the lighting, sort out your camera settings and start clicking away. However, this is so far from the truth and is often the least beneficial way to begin a portrait session.

We all have an idea of how we want to be perceived and possibly spend a great deal of time trying to present an ideal persona. We may even begin to lose ourselves and subconsciously live our lives as the person we want to represent, rather than who we are. When a client enters the studio, he/she is already in character and quite often everything begins with formalities. It’s my job to break down the walls and help my client discover the power they have to transform a basic portrait into a story that they can call their own.

The majority of people I meet don't like having their photograph taken (this is also true of clients who would happily take hundreds of selfies). When all control is taken out of our hands, we often feel at our most vulnerable and 'blurt out' little clues during those moments of insecurity. This is where my job as a photographer becomes easier and it’s at this point where photography starts to comes to life.

Every shoot comes with challenges, some peope snap out of their ideal in an instant and we tend to have a lot of fun during these sittings. Others remain 'in character’ for quite some time and the shutter count keeps going up until they reach their comfort zone.

I always hear clients say; "I’m terrible at posing” or; "I hate any photos of myself” and I instantly relate to that feeling. However, I know, deep down, that if this turns out to be a great portrait then they will forget those moments of doubt. Quite often, we dislike having our portrait taken for two main reasons;

Firstly, we think we all have flaws that everyone can see, and secondly, we don’t want to be viewed as self-absorbed. I adore those who are as comfortable in front of a lens as they are cuddled up on the sofa wathcing a movie but we all know that’s like finding a needle in a haystack. As someone who spends a lot of time behind the lens, I can 100% admit that I dislike having my photograph taken for a multitude of reasons but i wish i didn’t feel this way.

Before I could even consider taking a portrait of anyone else, I had to understand the process of ‘breaking-free' in portrait photography. This meant putting myself in the position of a client and having a portrait session. It was hard, I was being so false and thought it wouldn’t show, but it did. I started to relax by simply chatting about life, having a giggle and in the end, I forgot about trying too hard to 'look good'. I left my session feeling totally alive and most importantly, I did get a winning self-portrait that completely represented me, the real me!

Upon meeting a new client, the beauty is often the first thing to jump out at me, whether it’s a stunning smile, sparkling eyes, shapely jaw or smooth skin and I'm not afraid to say so either. It’s great to give genuine compliments and see how my clients react. A reaction to a compliment can say a lot about how the person is feeling, and what they think of themselves.

Offering a refreshment, or taking a break to rest, is my way of saying, ‘I'm not in any rush and i will take as long as it takes.’ I am interested in everyone i meet and always have questions regardless of who walks into the frame. I want to know how they got to where they are now, what they enjoy doing, who dominates their life, what they find annoying or how they decided what they were going to wear. All these elements before, during and after a photoshoot help to create the overall image. Even a simple white backdrop for a corporate headshot can create mood and personality. In life we must sell ourselves, but we can’t do it well if we are not being true to ourselves.

Every person I’ve captured is more than just a picture, they are a permanent part of my story.

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