MIchael Negrete Photography

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How To Capture Personality and Authenticity in Portraits-The Process Matters.

Every year or so I’m tasked with creating portraits of my two boys Aidan and Lukas.  It’s never easy, so I tend to procrastinate even doing it.  Aidan is my oldest, he's twelve now and I started like most parents taking tons of pictures of him since birth.  I have entirely worn out my photography welcome with him.  He gives me crazy faces or just turns away from the camera at this point.  I photograph hundreds of subject every year and many people are uncomfortable in front of a camera.  I completely understand how they feel and I’m very skilled at getting them to be themselves so I can capture an authentic portrait.  But….Aidan is skilled at thwarting my portrait efforts with him.  

A skilled artist understands that the process of creating art is very important.  We create methods that allow the art to come alive.  Like many parents I began with a bribe; a cookie.  I told the boys that this portrait session was their part of creating Christmas gifts for family and I’d appreciate some effort from them.  We started by selecting some clothing and then I took them to Some Crust in Claremont to sugar them up for the portrait session.  I knew I had to work fast and keep it casual and fun.  In studio with lights, a big camera and instructions to stand where the light was best wasn't going to be casual, quick or fun for them.  I also knew that I had one portrait session to get a years worth of portraits.   There was no way I could talk them into multiple portrait sessions during the year or sessions that lasted over an hour.

I kept it super casual and chose to use available light and my Fuji XT1 mirrorless camera with it’s superb prime lenses.  This camera has the quality of my larger Nikon camera system but it’s way less intimidating to the subject.  It more like working with a camera phone from the subject point of view; very casual and quick.  We drove over to the Claremont colleges after I got them amped up on sugar and had my subtle “you gotta do this for Papa and Nanni” conversation.  I treated the session like an adventure.  I approach engagement and high school senior sessions much the same way.  I took the kids on a fun walk through the colleges and when we found good light or a cool scene we quickly took a few snaps and then moved on looking for more photography adventure.  I made them part of the process in creating art with me.

Before this session, Aidan’s portraits over the last few years have been less than stellar.  His smile was honestly horrible.  His school pictures would always make us laugh because he looked so uncomfortable and his true personality was never captured.  The Fuji camera allows me to take portraits without the camera blocking my face.  I can snap away while I direct him and connect with him.  The results amazed even him!  He looked so handsome, sweet and goofy; all the things we know him to be.  Walking around on an adventure kept him from being tortured in the process; it made the session fly by while I captured a ton of great work.

Lukas is always easy to photograph because he’s our little rock star.  He loves to smile and be in the spotlight.  However the process still took his portraits to a new level.  Designing the best way to capture his portraits made all the difference in the world.  It’s not always about the camera, the lens and the light.
When I downloaded all the images I was blown away.  It took me hours to edit and sort because I loved so many the images.  I became one of the parents in my studio during a presentation session; I couldn't choose.  Our slogan at the studio is “Creating Art To Touch Your Heart”.  I am moved myself by what the Negrete Boy’s and I created together.  One last thing; the joy you see in their faces is a reflection of the love, admiration and respect I have for my young men.  You see, artists often create images or work that is a reflection of themselves or their feelings.  We look for what we want to see.  I’m in love with these images and I hope you enjoy them as well.

john holderness2 Comments