Saturday, July 4, 2015
Why President Bill Clinton Is So Difficult to Photograph
President Bill Clinton and actor Bill Murray are two of the toughest people I've ever photographed.
Why? Because they are so animated! That characteristic might seem like a plus, but remember, a photo is captured in a fraction of a second. By a fraction of a second, I mean 1/250 on average for a good shot that avoids camera shake or blurring. In that split second, an animated face can give you enough contortions to land a spot on the Vegas Strip. From funky mouths to sucked in cheeks to rolling eyes, just about any expression can come up. As such, I spend a lot of time waiting for the subject to relax their faces before pressing the shutter.
Ironically, what saved me with photographing both of these Bills were their gestures. A photo should tell a story, and in that regard, an animated subject is certain to deliver. The hand gestures in these images tell the viewer that they are engaging their audiences, one in a political campaign and the other on the golf course. Both are in their element, and that, I'm certain, brings them even more alive. It comes down to simple body language, and these two know how to speak it well. The hand motions of pointing left, pointing right, and aiming up high indicates excitement, direction, and activity. Audiences love the sense of interaction because it makes them feel connected, which wins them over and makes the experience memorable.
It's not unusual for a portrait photographer to capture hundreds of images of a client in a session. Most professional photographers won't show all the images, and believe me, there are many shots that land in a pile of pixel dust on the floor. A photographer in the field, who isn't directing their subject on how to pose, where to sit, or which way to tilt their head, has to anticipate the person's next move and be ready to capture it in that 1/250 of a second. Therein lies the art of being a street photographer or a candid portrait photographer. (Note: I intentionally leave the term "paparazzi" out of this because those are photographers who hunt down celebrities and public figures to capture them in private moments. The celebrities and public figures I capture are in public forums and expect to be photographed.)
A portrait photographer will present their clients with the top 50 or so images and from there narrow it down to the best of the best with their client. A landscape photographer, on the other hand, will likely only share the best one, perhaps two, of a particular scene. For my purposes here, I am sharing a few of the more quirky ones to make my point.
I've photographed enough famous people, such as Deepak Chopra, Arianna Huffington, Kevin Costner, Huey Lewis, Kenny G, Ray Romano, and even down to local politicians. From camera settings to coping with whatever lighting you're given on the scene, to not being able to give posing directions, it takes a different kind of approach than the portrait sessions I've done. I embrace the challenge, and while it may seem like shooting pixels in the dark, eventually, after catching enough images, a good one always shows up.
At least his book covers got it right!
Back to Work: Why We Need Smart Government for a Strong Economy
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This post originally appeared on the Huffington Post.