other than breaking stuff and getting too out of hand, my philosophy when photographing kids is set up the situation and then let them be kids. You can't go wrong! Photograph by Richard Sayer
Its hard to make a true portrait of someone you just met, Its almost as difficult as making a true portrait of someone you're close to and have known for a long time--I'll explain that some other time!) We have to accept that we need to shut ourselves down a little to listen and observe our subject. And we need to understand our own personality is what we use to make our work our own, but to achieve a true portrait we need to put as much of that person as we can find into the making of the work. We all have our ideas about our own way of doing things. I, like everyone else, can get stuck in my ways and work on auto-pilot. I do a great deal of thinking about this and try hard to shake myself up when I can. But its hard to catch yourself just doing something that is comfortable and then get out of that. I preach trying to capture the essence of a personality and a moment that tells the story or partial story of the person. I realized looking at my pictures of Dixie that I made for her to document her incredible work getting and staying in incredible shape for a mother of adult children that I was going back into my comfort zone of making pictures and perhaps not really paying close attention to the vibrant personality of my sitter. I tend to like serious images and not so much smiling. I feel smiling in pictures can be very fake if not done right leaving the image of the person flat in meaning. Our goal was to showcase her great shape, but we also wanted something that went beyond just pictures of her bod, but pictures of who she is. I have tons of serious shots, but only a few that i feel captured her great bright smile. We did I think accomplish our goal, but I always want to do more than just accomplish, I want to take it somewhere unexpected. When she gets back I'm going to offer her a second session to really try to capture what we did in a few images more in others. And I want to find that unexpected but very cool thing that we both will go---yep thats it--thats something!. These are a few quick looks from the session that produced what I think are still pretty cool photos, just want more--always want more! Photographs by Richard Sayer
Today is father's day and I was thinking about my dad today and everything he has given me. I am shaped a great deal by his lessons. In my taking up art as a direction I have had many people who have really helped me a long the way. The man in this picture perhaps more than anyone gave me the essential most important thing to have any degree of success in the arts. Confidence in understanding my guts and determination will be what gets me somewhere. He he were to chime in now he would start with a great laugh and say 'well it sure wasn't going to be my talent.' and then laugh some more before getting a serious expression as he explained it isn't talent at all that makes one an artist. Its using what you have to get your ideas across. Those with great ability do not always find it easy to use it. Those with ideas may struggle with how to accomplish something, but the ideas will find their expression as long as one has them. Rico saw me struggling away on piece after piece and he did two important things. He showed me a few technical things that he thought I might be able grab ahold of and perhaps understand, and with practice perhaps even achieve a level of competency. But its the second thing he did that was hugely important, he let me struggle. I think he was the first person, perhaps second that really looked at what I was doing and thought, that's something that can't be taught. Dogged determination in the exploration of ideas and a solid work ethic. I had other instructors who were so bogged down on my inabilities that they didn't allow me to explore. I'll always be thankful to Rico for this. Today I was looking for a picture and was surprised to find this picture in the same folder with a picture of my dad and wanted to give this portrait to the world on this father's day. I have been still experimenting with things so I used his portrait to try out some further finishing ideas I'm having for some of my commercial work. I'm still not sure what I'm after, but thought who better to experiment on than the guy who taught me to do just that!!! Below is a favorite funny picture of my dad and a few other experiments with this technique I may bring into my commercial work this summer.
I get my ability to find just about everything funny from this man. And a thousand other lesson too!
This layering of textures etc… needs work and care of image choice to be successful. But I think there is something there to find.
I made this portrait of a gentleman over 10 years ago. I had a print made and then put it on slide for my portfolio at the time(back then we used slides!) I had a few copies of the slide and the other day while thumbing through some old slides i decided to put two of them together and as i played i flipped on and got this image that I then shot with my digital camera with a micro lens. I will always do this sort of experimentation with image making because it is just downright fun! Photograph by Richard Sayer
I enjoyed making Challen's senior pictures because she pictured a location that meant something to her, part of her families property. I think it adds a story element to the photographs that can't be manufactured in front of a generic park scene or even inside of a studio. Don't misunderstand me, i think we can achieve a true portrait anywhere, but to add elements of a personal story just simply adds so much to the experience and ultimately the meaning of the image. Photographs by Richard Sayer
I will always be the first to admit that I don't know where an image comes from. A colleague/hero of mine in photojournalism recently posted about how ''luck' comes from hard work and dedication to your passions. So true! What we learn about phrselved is only understood when those lessons smack us upside the head. When i was in photo school i learned a lot about how to, but very little about 'what is,' though it was partly my fault because we had a very good instructor named Tom Hunt and another named Arther Rainville who were pushing us to understand. (For the record some got it right away like Craig Walker and Dan Delong!). Good image making has very little to do with mastery over equipment(though we need to know this) and much much more to do with creating emotion within the frame of what we're seeing.. It is what i hope for anyway!
I photographed Maggie for the first time about 9 months ago. Her folks Shawna and Zac have been very good about keeping up on documenting her development. This morning I spent a little time at their house and made some one year old pictures and thought I'd post a few quick grabs as a sneak peak for them. Based on the quick look I can't wait to go through the rest of them and find
Some more senior pictures. Check out my albums on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Richard-Sayer-Photography/519407448084009?sk=photos_albums for a lot more images. Photographs by Richard Sayer
Gearing up for senior portrait season and looking through old portraits trying to find out things that worked and things that didn't, some ideas to maybe try again and maybe tweak to make better or to abandon altogether. When you do a lot of something you tend to fall into routines and rely on things in the past that were successful and you know can be again. I remember when I was little I would draw the same few birds over and over again because I could use what was successful and duplicate it and make passable drawings ((at least for my mom and grandma!), but as i got older and realized it was so much more fun to push myself out of my comfort zone, well maybe fun isn't the word….rewarding maybe???…, then I wasn't going to be happy just doing the same ole same ole.
So I'm not sure what I'll be doing this coming summer, probably visiting some of the same locations, still using my smoke machine, still thinking about placing the subject in a location and using the location as part of the character and still looking to find the personality in an expression and posture.
I like to take advantage of little things that just happen as well and just make the experience of taking the photos something enjoyable for me and the clients. Its likely we won't have a curious cat again sticking out of a hole in a barn, but maybe there will be something else?
Hopefully I'll have many clients who liked what someone else got this year and want to come and see what we can make together. I am studying my past work to see what I can improve upon and can't wait to get started at the end of the month with my first few sessions and then grow and grow. Currently booking for the summer now.
Photographs by Richard Sayer