I have discovered through years of shooting, if I want, sincere, authentic, organic, emotion, I have to bring that. If I want them to feel safe, confidant, trusting, open, I have to bring that. I follow the four elements of empathy, that Brene’ Brown teaches . I was already doing it, but when I saw this, I could say, this work she does, it matter’s so much to my work, as a portrait photographer. Knowing my way around a camera and lighting, (although it matters), doesn’t make me a portrait photographer. Knowing my way around people does. In order to know, love and accept people, I have to know, accept and love myself, then that is what I bring, that is what I reflect to them, naturally, they connect with that part of themselves, and reflect that back.
The other piece to this is I must connect to something in them I love, one thing, it can be a body part, hair, eyes, etc., the other must be a personality trait.
I had a bride once that was so demanding and picky, every tiny thing was nit picked to death, that it over shadowed everything else while I was working with her. I found the work exhausting and depressing, until I made a decision to find something I loved about her and I connected to the parts of her that amused and charmed me. Changing my perception, changed the way I saw her, which changed the way I photographed her. Granted she was demanding and picky, but also charming and playful. Using the adage, what I focus on gets bigger, I chose to focus on that. When I think of her today, I feel fondness and joy.