photoflow: smize of the soul

so in last week's photoflow, i wrote about portraiture and included my friends who are really open to having their pictures taken. 

on that subject, my beautiful friend (since college) laura falls into the not-so-much category. she's always been a reluctant model and photo subject. 

but i want to share a photo shoot with laura that may have changed all that. we worked it! and came away with some great pictures. but it took some time. 

here's when i first approached laura with my camera. granted she was naked in the hot tub. "oh my god, you are not going to take my picture!":

i talked her into letting me photograph her. "we'll get a great picture, you'll see." but she was not convinced:

and here she is with what most people do in front of a camera, the cheesey smile:

but i wasn't stopping there. 

i was going for the tyra banks “smize” (smile with the eyes) and beyond. tyra coined the phrase on her show “america’s next top model.” i love that show. not for the in-house dramas between the girls. but for the stunning photography by the world's top fashion photographers. and for tyra’s mastery of finding and drawing out each girl’s quirks. tyra helps each girl embrace and reveal her own uniqueness. very empowering.

so i coached laura. and here she is becoming conscious of her face and her eyes and trying to control them. not so great:

i asked laura to open up her eyes more. not working:

then i told her not only to smile with her eyes, but to also open her heart. "remove the armor covering your soul." we were getting somewhere:

then we lost it again. self-consiousness returned. after the openness, she felt too vulnerable, and laughed:

trying to return to openness, but still armored:

come on laura. stay open. not just in the eyes. in the heart. in the soul. let your soul shine through. and boom:

and boom. right there, all of her. completely open:

and boom:

she did it. she not only smiled with her eyes. she smiled with her soul. a gentle smile. an open smile. 

it takes a lot of trust to be able to be this open. to lay down the shield protecting our innermost vulnerable place. when a model or photo subject opens in this way, it makes for great photographs because it touches the viewer in that same place inside of her. 

and it makes for great connection between people, in our day-to-day lives being with people, no camera in sight. open hearts meeting open hearts. soul to soul connection. i'm a human being, vulnerable just like you. try it with your loved ones. try it with the checkout person at the grocery store. open. open. open. saying inwardly "i see you. and i'm letting you see me." 

When you photograph people in colour you photograph their clothes.  But when you photograph people in B&W, you photograph their souls! 

~Ted Grant


when i spoke to laura yesterday about this blog post, reminding her of the photo shoot in the hot tub, she said ... "i trust you. just remember my dad will be seeing it!" 

and here's laura 30 years ago in college, on a backpacking trip in oregon, beautiful then and now: