I once tried to teach myself to code an iPhone app. The first thing they teach you was to type in code that would display “HELLO WORLD” and I did just that. When "HELLO WORLD” showed up on my screen through the GUI, I thought I was on my way to designing my own app; my own way of communicating with the world at large (yes, I just watched “Coding” on Netflix and Vox’s series “Explained”).After my small victory dance, I felt completely lost from there on. I suppose my gift doesn’t lie there, despite being a mean Excel technician.
That said, put a camera in my hands and I am a different person. More confident, more sociable, more… me. Myers Briggs lists me as a 100% introvert, but with my camera I find a means to connect with people 1:1 or in small groups.
Every new photographer experiments and shoots all the genres — landscapes, still life, fashion, street and portraits. Eventually, most photographers find their leanings and their reasons for liking a specific type of photography and start to delve deeper into their chosen area. I found an immediate connection with portraits. This is one of the big reasons I started focusing on portraits as a teenager when I chronicled my classmates and our adventures with my cheap 35mm film camera, and later when I traded up to professional cameras — the opportunity to connect with and know new and interesting people.
A large part of my method is conversation. I channel my natural intellectual curiosity to find out more about my subjects and what they care about, what drives them, what they detest. I truly believe that there is something to be learned from everyone, although it is often not what you expect to learn.
I take portraits of people everywhere I go. I met and took portraits for an elderly and distinguished Englishman living in New York City 2 years ago when I visited my sister and her family in Brooklyn. He wears 3-piece suits and a monocle and his job is to patrol Central Park… on a horse. We talked Monty Python and life in the city. On the same trip I met and shot a Ukrainian expat who took me to eat authentic Russian cuisine in the city in an underground restaurant with her friend. In Poland, I traipsed the city and got a walking tour from a stunningly photogenic yoga instructor.
In that way I suppose portraiture is my “HELLO WORLD”. One portrait and and connection at a time. I have no intention of stopping.