An Embodied Approach to Expressive Photographic Portraiture

scott lewis

For most of us, getting our portrait taken by a professional photographer is not a big deal.  When we look at the photographs, we look at our face, glance at our eyes, mouth, and we know we like it.  We can feel it.  We don’t much think about what we had to do to make it.  For some of us, a little creative chuckle and a nice smile will do. We think the photographer has done his job and has captured us at just the right moment.  It’s a good photograph and are happy to show it to our friends, family, or colleagues.  We will post it on our company website, Facebook and LinkedIn, and not give it another thought.

For some, the situation becomes more challenging when we enter the photo studio or sit down in front of the camera.   We feel like the actor who steps onstage in front of an audience without knowing our lines.  We can’t seem to relax and our performance doesn’t come off so great.  We don’t like the expression on our face, and we wonder what happened.  We are curious about the moment when the photographer released the shutter.  Most of all, we are glad the photo shoot is over.  So, what did happen?

First of all, the making of a photograph is a creative act, and a form of communication.  We are trying to say something to the person viewing our photograph.  Those people could include our friends, family, or a wider audience.  Our communication intention could be very specific, as in most of the portraiture I do – business portraiture.  In this genre, the message is fairly consistent: the executive expresses personal and professional confidence, knowledge, trustworthiness, and dependability.  We have a pretty good idea who our audience is, and it is vital that we express and present an image that meets certain standards of professionalism.  This style of corporate portraiture is different from personal portraiture, where the values and standards are varied.  Of the thousands of executives I have photographed over the past 19 years, all of them have had the purpose of communicating that they are professional, confident, and trustworthy – even if they are not feeling that way at the time of the photo session.  So, we must find a way to access those qualities and express them naturally while being scrutinized by the camera.

In my next blog, I will discuss my approach to Somatic Portraiture®.  I will discuss creativity, letting go of control and resistance.  In the final blog, I will finish this project with how we go about doing all that in 20 minutes photography session.


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One Comment

  1. Posted August 10, 2012 at 7:33 pm by Kathy Wiltse | Permalink

    Like your post young man. You do good work!

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