Last August NEA Today Magazine assigned me to create portraits of a Denver elementary school teacher (below). When I met the teacher I could just feel the stress sweltering out of her. The start of school was a week away. She was in the middle of creating a long list of videos for students choosing to learn from home. And she still needed to transform her classroom, including adding plexiglass to every desk.
A couple of weeks ago NEA Today Magazine again assigned me to create portraits of a Denver area teacher (top). I arrived the day after the school year had ended and found the teacher in his classroom alone. He was in the middle of finishing final grades for his students. “Do you mind if I go turn these in while you set up?” he asked. Not at all, I said.
When he returned I asked him to sit in. Instead, he flopped in. I watched his body decompress before my eyes. I could feel the weight of the trying school year lift from his shoulders.
Capturing emotional authenticity is something I constantly strive for. It means relying not on camera or lighting skills, but good ol’ fashioned people skills. I am always aware that my subjects are real people in progress in their lives. So it is important to me to connect first not with the subject, but with the person and be in tune to whatever they be going through when I happen upon them. If I can capture that, then I’ve done my job in humanizing my subjects beyond the page they will be printed on.
See additional portraits from this shoot below.