© Emily E. Johnson

The first image is from a series of family photos I was asked to take over the weekend. I don't mind the money, or the experience, or doing someone a favor-but I'm not fond of taking portraits of strangers. I feel like if they're not comfortable with the photographer or being behind a camera, they feel like they have to be phony. The pictures don't seem natural to me. This one in particular took about twenty shots in order to get their dog to look at the camera, meanwhile it's owners managed to maintain the same phony I know I'm getting my picture taken and I'm sick of smiling smile. Maybe this experience could have been different had it not been pouring rain about three feet away, outside of the park shelter. The second image is of my friend, Anna, who is so used to me taking pictures of her that she sometimes takes the camera right out of my hands and starts snapping photos of me. Taking pictures of Anna is different, because she's comfortable with me and my camera. She can act natural around me, as if the camera doesn't exist, so I can catch all of her quirky facial expressions as she talks my ear off and tells me another story. This moment in particular was just after she found a feather in the woods during our hike. She picked it up and put it up in her hair as she proclaimed that finding a feather must mean something good, so she should hold onto, and seconds later began worrying aloud about all of the germs she probably picked up by touching it as she simultaneously fidgeted with her hands. In this image of Anna the gaze looks so much more familiar and personal than of the strangers above.

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