About a week ago I received a very unexpected phone call from an elderly gentleman by the name of Mr. Jones. He relayed that he had been looking for a photographer for the last year to do a portrait of him. He said he had a portrait of his deceased wife whom he wanted to try to replicate stylistically. Mr. Jones was somewhat hard to understand on the phone but he insisted that he wanted to come down to my studio and show me her picture and we could go from there. We set a time and two and a half hours after our appointment time, in walked Mr. Jones, a sweeter person I cannot imagine meeting. He shared with me this picture of his wife and explained that since she was looking upward in her portrait, he wanted to be looking slightly downward so that when the two pictures were hung on the wall they could be staring into one an other’s eyes. Yes, I am a romantic at heart and at that point, my heart melted.
Here is the portrait he shared:
Now, keep in mind I am primarily an architectural photographer but I LOVE TO DO PORTRAITURE, as well.
Well, we spend the morning trying to replicate the look and feel of a 1960s portrait and then Mr. Jones arrived. He was a bit nervous about the sitting but, was excited nonetheless. We helped him button his collar, fixed his bow tie and helped him with his jacket. We asked him to look off and think pleasant thoughts and one could just tell by the twinkle in his eye that he was thinking sweet memories of his wife. I asked him look off to the left, I had him lift his head slightly, I tried to have him bring up a smile but it all was not working. At one magical moment, he turned and looked back and I said, “Stop, don’t move”. I could see that this new & unexpected body position not only complimented the picture of his wife, it complimented Mr. Jones, as well. I often find, whether portraiture or architecture, having an openness to being able to see is ever so important. It often happens that I will be walking through a space I have walked for three days but not at that particular time and I see something I never saw before. You can plan and plan but the ability to see is what it is all about.
When he saw the results, his eyes lit up and he exclaimed, “I didn’t think someone could take a picture like that of me. I think I picked the right photographer.” I wish I had a recording because in black and white, his heartfelt joy cannot be expressed adequately.
Here was the result:
As he left, one could tell that he was very moved by the experience. The fact was, we were moved too. Something special happened right before our eyes, almost divine, and as he left, he said what a true pleasure it had been. He said, “You made my, day, my weekend and my week” and, I will tell you as I told him, “YOU made ours”.
I encourage you to look beyond that which you expect to see, as things will appear out of the unexpected that will astonish and amaze you. Look with your heart and it will help your eyes to see, and sometimes the little things you do to help make someone else feel fulfilled, to help create a memento that may last for generations, can be one of the greatest gifts you can give someone else but, also one of the most emotionally fulfilling things you may do for yourself too.
All the Best,