let go, love and be you | calgary photographer

One of my favorite quotes is by Annie Liebowitz and goes… “When I say I want to photograph someone, what it really means is that I’d like to know them.”   I think it is true of any portrait photographer.  Taking pictures of a person, or “making” pictures of a person, chatting with them and also watching to see which images are their favorites is an amazing way to get to know someone.  I’ve never been an outgoing person, it is something that I have to work very hard it with every person I meet.  It’s something I don’t talk about a lot, instead  I tend to gravitate towards people that are boisterous, or funny, or love to talk!  That way I don’t have to feel shy or uncomfortable.  I just get to listen.

For me, my camera is that person.  It gives me a way to sit back and get to know someone without a whole lot of words.  I get to watch everything unfold and sometimes I get a little bit lost in the art of “watching”.  I ask people to “be yourself or pretend I’m not here”.  I know how silly that sounds sometimes.  I’ve seen the looks I get.  🙂  After all, there is a huge black camera in front of your face and someone is staring at you!  Trust me though… I’m lost in the art.  You can send your self consious self out the door because when I’m watching I’m seeing the beauty.  The individual beauty in you, your family, your surroundings.  Everything you do at that moment is perfect… because it’s you and that is what I want to see.  I’m not the person in highschool who is watching for you to do something silly so I can laugh, I’m not being critical of you.  I may gently persuade you to take another position, to get closer to your family, to just “love” the person you are with, but really, I’m looking for is that one moment that will capture the essence of you, or your child, or your baby.  That one image that will make your stomach feel like you just went over the tippity top of the roller coaster.

My goal for 2011 is to gently encourage every person to send their self consiousness (is that a word?) as far away as you possibly can.  I know it’s hard!  It would be for me too.  But trust me, when you let go, when you be yourself… when you let the love shine through and forget your dishes in the sink, your laundry that needs to be folded, your hair that may not be perfect (who’s is?),  and the last 10 pounds you need to lose… that is going to be the picture that you cherish.  That is going to be the portrait that you want to look at every single day.  So go ahead… I dare you to let go and love and be YOU.

This photo is an example of what I am talking about.  When I arrived at the busy home of this family this week I saw a beautiful little girl with two little brothers.  I also saw a beautiful little girl with two little brothers that is only three years old and still a “baby” herself.  Every once in a while she put her thumb in her mouth and was quiet and full of thought and I wanted that picture!  As soon as I pointed the camera at her the thumb popped out of her mouth and that “baby” with the sweet curls that I had just seen turned in to a big girl.  I asked her to put her thumb back in her mouth but the moment had passed, it wasn’t the same.  I kept trying throughout the session to capture that look.  I wasn’t getting it.  Until the end.  She sat on the floor while I packed up after taking pictures of her new baby brother.  Her brand new Playdoh box was resting under her leg and she was waiting patiently for someone to open it and let her play.  I grabbed my camera from my bag, I snapped the picture and it’s one of my favorites.  Right after I got it she took her finger out, pulled the playdoh box out and became a big girl again.  I asked her to put the box back and tried to capture a few more shots but again… it wasn’t the same.  To me, this picture, it is her.  That is what she did when no one was watching.  When instead she was watching everything else unfold and she thought that no-one was watching her.

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  • Chelsey - Michelle, this post … that photograph … amazing beyond words. I SO know what you mean! I myself have to work “really hard” at some of those same things. I love what you’ve shared here with your blog readers … a piece of yourself. Happy New Year!

  • Amanda - ahhh the amazing michelle! Love this! and love your words!

  • Patti - Lovely words and image.

  • Terry McKaig - Sweeeeeet!!! : )

  • Adrienne Ulliac - Michelle, what a beautiful and inspiring post. So glad I found and read it today 🙂 The picture is PERFECT and so glad you reached back for your camrea to snap it….thx for sharing!

  • Morgan Chapman - Beautiful. That is why it is so wonderful to work with you 🙂 Happy 2011!