I find that it is sometimes the most difficult thing to capture a person's personality when you've only known them for the few minutes that they sit in the makeup artist's chair. I'm usually pretty good at it – when a model walks in (or in this case, a sitter for a portrait) I can immediately tell a bit about them. I watch them interact with my team and learn from it. It is an important skill and one that has kept me from making friends with people I would regret. That is not to say that I am right all the time, but it is a developed skill, not guesswork.
Brianna is one of those people that I knew we would hit it off right away. The first time I photographer her it was for a small personal editorial project. Since I've been in Savannah, I've photographed her a least a dozen times over the years. Each time is a new experience and I learn a little more about her and how amazing of a person she is. For her portrait, I wanted to make sure to get as much of her personality as possible – even her modeling side. It was a pretty big task.
We spent the first half of the shoot trying to tame the "model" – which is common when trying to photograph models as "not models". I thought I'd bombed my concept. We'd consistently gotten beautiful photographs of her, but they were shallow and fashion oriented that did nothing to showcase her personality. It was only after she had changed back into her own clothes and had plopped down on the set to put on her shoes that I took the shot that would encapsulate everything.
I had forgotten my own lesson: when in doubt, go back to the basics.