US Department of The Treasury Building for BusinessWeek
I've been working the past few weeks on a series of portraits for the new issue of (Bloomberg) BusinessWeek and was happy to see how everything came out when my issue arrived yesterday. The shoots brought me down to Capitol Hill twice, the Federal Reserve, FCC and finally to the Treasury Building where a planned day of shooting interiors turned into a day shooting the outside of the building. I've been thinking a little about the nature of these interactions with politicians and other public figures and to what degree I should (or can) impose some level of control on them.
Senators Bob Corker and Mark Warner for BusinessWeek
Most of my working method involves finding an interesting setting or visual idea, placing the subject into this space and seeing what happens. Besides some minor direction in terms of posture and directing their gaze, I tend to let the subject settle naturally into whatever pose or expression feels right to them.
Pat Parkinson for BusinessWeek
The problem with this is that for all the control I impose with the lighting and environment, I'm leaving the more interesting elements like body language and expression to the subject. In some ways, I think this approach comes from my photojournalistic background, where I never controlled a subject or photo and was always content to just hang tight and wait for things to happen. The issue here lies with the media savvy politician who is hyper aware of how they're are portrayed and will rarely give me something meaningful to work with. At least, that's how I used to think. The more basic truth is that we are all human (I know, I know, is it possible to be more obvious?) and that it's just plain difficult for even the most seasoned public figure to completely stage manage their life and how they're portrayed. Furthermore, subjects continually surprise me in how they act in front of the camera, often doing way more interesting things than I could ever have planned for. Just like in photojournalism, it goes back to the personal connection with the subject, anticipating the real moments and being honest and upfront with them about your desire to create something meaningful.
FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski for BusinessWeek
And if your subject decides to use the time scheduled for your photo shoot to hold a meeting with their communications director, maybe the best you'll get is them adjusting their tie. All of these shoots resulted in some more shots I liked, here are a few of them.