Friday, February 6, 2015

Look Away From The Camera and Please, Don't Smile.

Carol, playing in our kitchen a few years back. One of my favorite nights of food and music! 
Why do photographers expect their subjects to smile into the camera? Is anyone really happy to see the business side of a lens, staring at them across the space like a weapon? There is nothing friendly or inviting about being stared at by a device. I have struggled with this issue since I began taking photographs as a little kid (age six, for those who really want to know). Smiling eyes are certainly inviting, for sure... but telling someone to smile is like telling someone to "be happy"... on command. It has always struck me as artificial. I have preferred instead to capture the real underlying emotion. The unguarded moment where the true self appears... the moment that everyone recognizes and identifies with. The instant where the experience is shared without explanation or contrivance.

Nancy, vintage dress. 
This week as I have been editing images from weddings, in preparation for album design, what I have come to realize is that I love capturing that moment where no one is really aware that I am there. I am immersed in the interactions... rather than being the focus of that attention. No one smiles at me in that image...they are too busy smiling and talking and sharing with each other. Those are, without fail, my favorite images. Today I am sharing a few of my favorite images from the past few years. Images without smiles. Images where the subject isn't even necessarily looking at me. It is amazing what happens when you ask someone to look away from the camera. What appears and what slides away?

Nancy's first tattoo from Eddie Molina at Hand of Fate, Ithaca. 
Robert Dey, taken from outside the coffee shop in Trumansburg. 

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