When you take a photo I think you should strive to capture the essence of the person. Not necessarily what they are known for, and not even what you think they would want to be known for. Instead, to capture the fundamental core of what makes this person human. Sure this often means capturing certain emotions like smiles, laughter, tears, etc.
For most people, this would be enough, but I think we can go deeper.
We can capture the fact that this person, which is all people, really, have thoughts, doubts, a past, and a future. They have lived. They will continue to live. And they are just like you. But in their own unique way that could manifest itself in a drooped shoulder, manicured eyebrows, a subtle smirk on the corner of the face, or a deep sigh.
Our work as photographers is to acknowledge this human presence as they are at that very moment. Because in the next moment they will have changed. Just as much as they've changed in all the moments before you crossed paths.
It is for this reason that I rather enjoy photographing the same person throughout a lifetime. People can change so much. I find it so interesting to try and capture the different manifestations of one’s essence.
When you do this long enough you will find that you are taking a picture of yourself just as much as you are taking a picture of others. That your search to capture the essence of someone is very much the search of the essence of who you are and what you represent as a human as well. Your trials and tribulations. Your hopes and aspirations. Failures. Heartbreaks. And everything else in between.
So one must then ask: Who am I? What do I represent? Why do I take these pictures? What makes me human?
And in asking these questions we look back out into the world in search for answers, which then manifests itself in the photography that we create and share with the world.
This is what I see in you. This is what I see in me. This is what I see in us.
by Jason Lam