2: 2019 Work Review
In the previous post, I wrote about the mechanics of getting my job as government staff photographer done. As important as the mechanics might be, there is an equally important component of my job. That is forming connections with people.
As with any other type of photography, establishing a solid relationship with the subject or client is important to being successful. In the case of my job, my client is often also the subject of my work. So having a good connection with them is critically important. I’m very fortunate to have a willing and understanding client/subject when I work with the Premier or any of the ministers who appear in my work. As I often travel with them, it’s important to turn off the camera and find space to get my editing done and to give the client/subject time without having to always be aware of what I might be shooting.
For other parts of my work, I make photos of people who I have only met moments before. In that time, I try to connect with them in such a way to make them comfortable enough for me to take a quick portrait, answer some interview questions or to repeat an action. At an event, we may only interact for a matter of a few minutes. On an ad shoot however, I may spend multiple days with the subject, which requires a different kind of relationship. In all cases, forming a successful relationship depends on personal interaction and doesn’t have anything to do on how good a photographer I might be. Developing this skill has been as challenging as learning how to shoot and deliver photos. And it is at least as important to making successful images.
In more dynamic situations, such photographing an event, I always look for a subject or two who best represent the reason for the event. I may attempt to connect with simple eye contact, to let them know that I am taking their photo. Or, I employ my best street photography skills and get the shots without them knowing it. This usually produces the best and most natural results. No real relationship is formed here, although I do attempt to make it as respectful a connection as possible. I don’t make getting my shot the priority over respecting the subject’s personal space.
I have found that one way to strengthen relationships after the shoot is to share images with individuals that I have photographed. I never know when I may see them again and extending them this courtesy is always appreciated. I consider it a vital part of my job. I want any subject to feel good about their interaction with the government photographer.
Forming successful relationships is a key to getting my job done. It’s as important, if not more, as having reliable equipment and a solid workflow. While both relationships and mechanics are critical to getting my job done, I don’t think that I would be happy in my work if I didn’t believe that what I’m doing has value. In the next post, I’ll talk about making images that matter.
NB: All images captured with Fujifilm X-series cameras, fronted by Fujinon XF lenses.