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Saturday
Feb132010

Shooting from Body Parts

There are 3 ways to shoot. From the head, the heart, and the hip.  Learning to shoot from each of the body parts at the same time is what I like to think of as the tri-fecta of perfect capture. 

Think of the last time you prepped for a shoot. Were you too fatigued to be inspired,  or your mind was on the Superbowl and the fifty bucks now gasping in someone else's snakeskin wallet. Had you shot the same family four years in a row and  now as teenagers they want nothing less than to be in your presence that day because Lady Gaga was at the mall dressed like a snow cone on crack…

It’s days like this some shooters figure they know enough technically that  all they really have to do is get the shots and fix the lighting later in Photoshop, rather than put forth that extra bit of effort to seek it out, or inspire their client. This is called shooting from the head. Although a necessary element to photography as the head is where the information lives, the key to being successful on days when your creativity has taken a spa day, is knowing how to compensate by shooting from the hip, and the heart, as well as the head.

The key to activating all three aspects of this tri-fecta is to first accept that they exist in tandem, and never rely on just one of them to get you through a shoot. Shooting from the heart is pulling on your own personal emotional energy store, not one you've manufactured just for this shoot. I mean giving yourself the ole pep talk of why you started shooting in the first place. When you look into those children's eyes, think of your own children. When you hug your client upon arrival, remember that each parent is entrusting their memories to you, and each bride is somebody's baby. Allow yourself to feel the experience on a gut level. (I would have called it shooting from the gut, but that just sounds wrong....)

Then there's shooting from the hip. This is definitely not what it sounds like, because there is nothing casual or unscripted about this. This is about embracing the physical energy supply you must not only muster for this shoot, but have access to on a daily basis as a working photographer. For some shooters,  they fast for a couple of days prior to a wedding to clear their head and their body. If I did this I would collapse. For others it’s a yoga class prior to the event or shoot. Some people need a good night’s sleep and a breakfast of scrambled eggs, others need a Vente 5-pump Chai Latte with non-fat, no water and an extra shot….(that would be me…).You’d be surprised how much your client feeds off your energy, your charisma, your ability to inspire THEM. They do not expect to simply show up for a portrait shoot and not be instructed on how to pose, or not to have their experience framed in some way. Your attitude, your joi de vivre (I've always wanted to use that in a sentence) will make or break a session. Even as a photojournalist performing a portrait shoot, there must be a sense your client has that they are not operating without a net. If it means inspiring yourself by bringing red lollipops for the children to play with, go for it! Go to the local grocery store and buy a bunch of solid colored helium balloons and watch their eyes pop as you exit your vehicle...

It’s a personal reflection as to what it will take for you to connect with your head, your heart and your hip shooter within. 

The greatest athletes in the world have to get into their headspace before a game or competition, but they don’t do this by simply replaying the rules in their head. They rev up their enthusiasm, they pray to fill their heart, they cheer on themselves and the other players involved. Every event you shoot should be looked at not only as a competition to prepare for, but an experience that will determine if there will be another shoot or event to follow. Just as in athletics, just as in the movies, you are truly only as good as your last shoot. Head, hearts & hips, unite...


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