I’ve known this lovely young lady for a few years now, and was deeply honored some time ago when she asked me to do her senior portraits. Honored, and a little overwhelmed.
I’m always overwhelmed when someone asks me to take their picture. I think it’s an enormous responsibility, and one I never take lightly. I’ve done a number of portrait sessions now, and I think I’m steadily improving, but every time I get ready to point the camera, I feel a little butterfly in my stomach. What if I can’t figure out the exposure? What if the subject thinks they look bad? What if my super-creative idea is a super bomb?
When I go take pictures of sunset over a lake, I am free to express whatever creative energy I wish. But portrait photography is about so much more than my creativity. Someone is depending on me to create images that they can cherish for a lifetime. They depend on me to convey memories that they can hold dear and pass along to generations that follow. My personal creative approach is not nearly as important as successfully fulfilling those desires. If I fail, it’s true that they can have their photos taken by another photographer, but I can’t escape the sense that they will always feel that an opportunity was lost. I feel like I will have broken a trust.
Fortunately I haven’t broken a trust yet. I have been told repeatedly that my work is admired and appreciated by those who have placed their trust in me and have generously paid me for my efforts. Still, with each new opportunity I feel the same sense of responsibility to get it right, to fulfill their vision.