When I was first starting out in photography, the late Phil Webber, a photographer of nearly fifty years at The Seattle PI, imparted some invaluable advice to me. He told me to always shoot pictures for myself, even if they might never see the light of day in print. He thought this was critical to growing as a shooter, and I heartily agree more than five years later.
Personal assignments like the Seahawks fans portraits, Bellingham ComicCon portraits, The Seattle Elvis Invitational, Bhangra Bash UW, and my work photographing Seattle Tent City 3 have kept my shooting fresh and inspired. Even without an end client, shoots I have done just for me have been some of the most fulfilling and satisfying ones all year. As a freelance photographer, I am always working hard to meet the needs of my clients. But the photos I like to make, or try to make, might not fit for their needs — so, I shoot for me. With that said, here is some of my favorite personal work: images that I made on assignment for me, or while shooting for my portfolio.
I love making portraits. What could be more exciting and challenging than to meet a person for the first time, and in a short while try and make a picture of them that encompasses both who they are and why they are. It’s a constant give and take between photographer and subject, and I love it. Sometimes people step in front of the camera and they just own it — they’ve done it before — and they enjoy doing it. Others require more coaxing, and those are the shoots that push you as a journalist and a portrait photographer. This past year I have shot a lot of portraits outside of the confines of a traditional assignment. I went to events and photographed complete strangers, like at a Seahawks game, and at the Seattle Tattoo Expo. On those kinds of shoots, I have to trust my instincts and highlight what drew me to photograph them in the first place, in lieu of a backstory to illustrate. Those shoots are almost the opposite of most of my magazine and newspaper portrait assignments where I have the luxury of time to research my subjects. This year I have made the greatest number of portraits, and I hope to continue that trend in the new year.
They say you don’t know where you are going unless you look at where you have been. In keeping with that theory, I am posting my year in review for several picture categories: news photography, portrait photography, and unpublished (personal) photography.
Tent City 3 at Calvin Presbyterian Church Friday February 27, 2009 in Shoreline, WA.