The joy of portrait photography

I remember as a teenager, when I took a picture of a friend with a simple point and shoot, and she loved the picture so much because “it was the first time she liked herself in a photo”. The buzz was real.


I could not really take many photos as a teen and I only had a point and shoot camera, but I loved it. And I liked most of all taking pictures of my friends.
Fast forward to the 2000s when I started to take portrait photography more seriously and foolishly decided to embark on starting a photography business specialising in portraits and weddings. In many ways, it was good that I tried, because otherwise I would have always wondered “what if”. I was successful, a fully booked wedding calendar, portrait shoots and some lovely projects for modelling shoots. Yet it was not for me and totally killed my love of photography for years. I gave up the business in 2014 and did not pick up a camera until this autumn. I mean I took photos with my phone, but deliberately not good ones, not caring what the pictures looked like.


Why did wedding photography kill my joy in photographing? I think first and foremost: I am not good at interacting with people. I mean of course, I can interact, and I sort of know how to do that, but because it does not come naturally to me it is super exhausting. So a wedding did not just leave my physically exhausted (and believe they do take their toll on your body) but also mentally. If I had two weddings on a weekend (which was often the case) I would need nearly all week to recover, but I could not because in between, you had to go out and meet people for more weddings, edit photos, liaise with clients, design albums, write blog posts. But here is the thing, if I am exhausted from human interaction I basically need to hide away from the world and cannot do anything until I recovered.


If this is not your world, it may seem strange to you, but for me this is my reality and something I just have to live with. Well-meaning people would say things like: You will get used to it. But trust me: I never did, and I still never do. It’s not that I don’t like people, it’s just that in order to not seem “too weird” I have to roll out all learned behaviours and trust me not doing that does not work, because only people who love me accept my weirdness. But I guess, this is something I must be grateful for that the photography business showed me this AND made me accept that this is simply who I am.

I mentioned before that a k-drama (Encounter with Park Bo-Gum in case you wonder) made me pick up the camera again. I mostly take street photos at the moment, all in black and white, but – and it’s not surprising – I still love portraits. Currently (hello pandemic) I am only taking the occasional portrait of my family, but I would like to do portraits of other people too. Looking at a good portrait brings me joy; I just have to find a way of doing it that won’t drain me.
Planning portrait shoots or, goodness forbid, even a project seems a bit futile now, nevertheless my trusty old Leuchtturm is full of ideas. Occasionally, I go through the list and delete some of them for various reasons, I hope that at some point I have a list that is realistic, in line with my character and feasible.
It may seem odd to most people that to me both can be equally true: That I like to shoot portrays and find human interaction difficult. The joy of portrait photography totally outweighs everything else if I handle it right and pace myself.


2021 might be the year for some more portrays, who knows. If you follow me on Instagram, you will find out.

Author: Melanie

I read, I eat (and cook) and I like to go places.

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