PHOTOGRAPHY AND TEXT BY bert stephani
For the last couples of weeks leading up to the deadline of this issue of the KAGE Collective, I've been dodging the conversations between my fellow members a bit. Not that I didn't want to talk to them, I just had no stories to show. Eventually I told them that I've been so focused on portraiture lately that I have hardly shot any reportage, documentary or street pictures. And then they told me: "then why don't you share some of your portraits?"
And they were right (as usual), portraits can also be stories and I've come to understand that I'm often more interested by the story of SOMEONE, rather than by the story of SOMETHING.
I believe people are layered, complex and nuanced. That's what I'm interested in, that's what I want to photograph. In order to do that, I need two things:
- The person in front of the camera has to be willing to show something that goes beyond the their public image.
- I need to make sure that they trust me enough to actually show what's beneath the surface.
I would be lying if I said it always works, it doesn't. But when it does, a photo shoot becomes a beautiful collaboration in which two people work together to tell a true story. I notice very often that a lot of people would love to show their lesser known sides but are afraid to do so. Sometimes I need a gentle approach, sometimes I need to push to get them over the edge. But every time I manage to do it, it empowers the person in front of the lens to be who they are. And that gives me the greatest satisfaction in photography.