The funny thing about photography is it’s mostly an illusion; a semblance of lines and colors carefully selected in an attempt to elicit some sort of response from the viewer. As a photographer, I love this control. I am able to show someone how I feel about them simply by clicking a button. Lots of people I photograph lack confidence, and most of the time it’s unbeknownst to themselves. Getting the opportunity to show someone what I see is a privilege, and honestly an unexpected gift.
I was feeling pretty down about my “life” situation (as many 22 year olds do), and began looking for an outlet. With photography being my drug of choice, I called (texted) up a friend and asked him if we could meet up. He agreed without hesitation (though later admitted to hating having his picture taken..sorry Cyrus lol).
So, after an unbelievably long and busy day at school, I packed the papers that needed grading, and headed down to UT’s campus.
***I’m going to stop right here to mention that I hate driving anywhere near downtown. I will avoid it at nearly any cost so this was a true challenge that left my nerves horribly frayed.
As expected, I couldn’t find a parking spot, drove on the wrong side of the road (I’m pretty sure), and yelled at my best friend on the phone telling her “I’m going home. This is so stupid.” Just finding a parking spot became such an ordeal for me that I actually almost texted him to cancel..even though I was already there. I know..
Anyway, I called and told him the situation (leaving out the potential cancelling, obviously) and he helped direct me to a spot. Once I was parked, I felt a little better but still not totally at ease. I was in a place I didn’t know at all with someone I didn’t know much better. I mean yes friends, but new friends.
Luckily he was gracious enough to pick a place and lead the way. He chose UT’s engineering building which was gorgeous. The inside had a courtyard feel with 6 rows of windows stacked high, lining the perimeter of the inside. I took a second to take it all in, reading the various messages written in expo marker from each window’s occupant.
We ended up on a set of catwalks that lined the back portion of the building. I was worried about lighting with it already being 5 o’clock (in November), but it ended up being perfect. I took a few test shots, and we got started. He admitted to not knowing how to pose, and I admitted to not knowing how to pose him. I’ll be honest, I did not think this was going to go well. I already felt frazzled from the day, and having to lead someone in doing anything at this point just seemed impossible and frustrating. As I’m writing this now, I’m wondering why I even wanted to do this in the first place. haha
The first few shots were very awkward. I can’t even say they didn’t come out the way I expected, because I hadn’t expected anything. I felt so vastly unprepared for this shoot, I would’ve taken anything that looked remotely interesting. But, and this is a big but..things started to turn around. I took a few shots and started to feel more comfortable. I moved around the catwalk taking shots from different angles, gave minimal direction, and was pretty impressed with the results.
After the first set was finished, I felt a lot better. I started to remember that:
1. people are just people, not these scary judge machines
2. this guy had no idea what he was doing either sooo…it was going to be fine
3. THIS IS JUST FOR FUN ALEXIS SO CALM DOWN
Now that I felt a bit more comfortable, I wanted to take a few shots in a different location. He agreed, and lead the way to another cool building. This one had an actual courtyard and looked a bit abandoned which was perfect. The engineering building was so sleek and modern that it only made sense I go back to my antique aesthetic to finish things up.
At this point I had a specific “vision” in mind, so I felt a lot more confident directing. I figured he was still feeling uneasy about posing so I just told him to talk to me like normal as I began to snap away furiously. I loved it. I was able to get some candids and he didn’t look so tense because he was just talking about blackholes, stars, and other concepts that went way over my head (…lol literally…).
***FUNNY TIDBIT: About halfway through, I noticed his attire mixed with the background gave the photos a bit of a “Twilight” feel which was my own little secret joke.
After a few minutes of this, it began to grow dark fairly quickly so we decided to call it quits and grab dinner.
Typically with photo shoots, I have no idea how the shoot went until later. This particular one was no different. I got home later that night and pulled out my laptop. Once imported, I was able to really get a chance to analyze, tweak, and alter the photos to fit what I already saw in my head.
As I began to go through and edit, it became very clear. I was able to capture EXACTLY what I didn’t even know I wanted. The images flashed in front of me, each one better than the last. It seemed as though the awkward faces and interesting stances were something I planned as some sort of “aesthetic piece”. As if by accident, I had captured a man full of passion, and empathy for others..a full fledged person, full of intricate details, mannerisms, and memories.
It didn’t take much longer to edit, and before I even realized, I was through. Within minutes, the files were exported, downloaded, and sent off to the subject for further inspection. After a quick acceptance, they were approved for posting and ready for the public.
Upon final reflection, I’ve come to realize this photoshoot was very impromptu, and a bit one sided, but I’d like to thank him anyway. Having your picture taken and critiqued puts you in a vulnerable state. As the subject, all eyes are on you, and your trust is laid within the photographer to portray you in a positive light.
As a result, I want to give a large and appreciative thank you to the man who let me capture what I saw. Without his willingness to have a camera in his face, I wouldn’t have a story to tell.