Respect the subject. This is another rule for the photographer who is privileged to get up close into another person’s space with a camera. Sometimes as a photographer, I zoom in on the subject. Shooting models at Arise Fashion Show and shooting on the set of Lekki Wives, the recently released drama series produced by Blessing Egbe has been quite instructive.
I was invited to shoot the set of Lekki Wives by Emeka Nwokolo, my dear friend who also owns a shop at Ikota Shopping Complex. We met on one of those evenings I spend after closing, sitting to relax at Ritz Bar before going home, and we became good friends. I had my camera on that day, and gave Emeka a few tips about his newly purchased camera, and discussed photography in general. It was an easy choice for Emeka to get me to shoot on the set of Lekki Wives-one of the scenes was shot in the complex.
Have you ever wondered why no one in The Palms ever looks ugly?! Lights just make flaws disappear, and the small details no longer count. Isn’t that what makes photography delightful-the interplay of light and shade just transforms the most mundane scenes into magical fantasies. So also, in real life and our ‘reading’ of people-we don’t get too close to them. We just ‘feel’ them, and are enveloped in their body language so much that the pimple on a face is not ‘remembered’, nor the scar from a vaccination.
Using a camera with a wide aperture, or just getting an image in focus can cause all the minuscule details to show, making a beautiful face look like the surface of Mars. Lines translate to wrinkles and one sees the skin discolorations all too well, especially when one enlarges the image while editing on a computer, zooming to a hundred percentage sometimes. One thing photo editing has taught me is not to get carried away by appearances. I have also come to look beyond appearances when interacting with people.
Some people are repulsed by the Photoshop look. Of course it can be overdone. I personally prefer images that remind the viewer of the ambiance, of the real person being photographed. I would remove scars, discolorations and pimples that could disappear in a day or two, and stuff that could easily be corrected by creams or even cosmetic surgery. I work very subtly on the original image. It is a sign of respect. The subject let you in to his/her life, even if it’s for a second. It is that split second before the camera clicks, that magical moment when a character either puts on a mask or drops the mask.
The tedious acting on movie sets means every part will take many rehearsals, the repetition looks like drudge work. But I appreciate the beauty of the repetitive act that fine-tunes, and perfects the act, the art. It is so like the lessons of life, the performance of small repetitive acts which build up tempo, and our understanding of processes. We all play parts at all times, and our script changes with the spaces. The work of the photographer is to freeze, to immortalize the moment, following the light. He works with passion, like a griot who has been bestowed a great task of memorizing a monumental event for posterity. Photography literally takes one’s breathe away (you take a deep breath and hold it before clicking the shutter, for sharper pictures). Oh, did I tell you that i love this job?!