Join Douglas Kirkland for an in-depth discussion in this video Relating to the Subject, part of Creative Inspirations: Douglas Kirkland, Photographer.
(Music playing.) Woo-hooo! That was wonderful. Thank you! Douglas Kirkland: On a day like this, we are shooting this beautiful, wonderful, Amico and she is great, she is a beautiful dancer.
Now how do I get started on a shoot like this? To begin with, I try to remain open to everything. Now, I remember one thing is extremely critical for me and that is that she is the star. Many photographers make a mistake of thinking that they are the superstar and everything evolves around them. That's in my opinion a great mistake, because you as a photographer are important, but the most important person really there is the subject or subjects if you are more than one. And you are there to record, you may setup a condition that works and makes them comfortable, but ultimately, they make the picture.
And you do have a look. What's my look for Amigo today? It's beauty, grace, youth, this glorious hair she has. Yeah, I am sure you noticed that. That hair is fantastic. These are all the elements that move me and what goes into my pictures. It's not just taking a picture or catching a picture; it's trying to create a picture. And part of that, sometimes with dancers especially, is watching her creativity and following it and catching the most important glimpses of it and movements.
I am not certainly trained in ballet, but I have been around it a lot and I certainly know about photography and I know what I like is in a picture and this wonderful lady is doing it. I also want to point out another thing. As I watched her, as she was warming up, she was over at the side here. I saw another picture there. I mean, that wasn't the picture I started to make. I initially thought we would be working on this black seamless background. But what I did is I photographed her over here against the wall as she was stretching and warming up, and that made another picture.
So I didn't get just one or two pictures today. I got that other look, which is more of a journalistic look. It's more journalistic than what we've done here. This is a studio type picture, but I was watching. Always be watching, always be listening. Those are other tips I would suggest that you do. You try to adapt to people. If people have certain sensitivities, that's good, but if they aren't responding to whatever you are doing, you have to try and figure out what you should be doing.
And how you connect with them, because I say it again, I feel it's never enough of it. You're only as good as your connection with them. And part of probably what I have accomplished is by being able to connect with people. I find talking fortunately pretty easy. I can talk, you pick up a fragment and I could talk about this room, that record player over there, or anything in here. You can start a conversation, but what's more important is, it might be what you had for breakfast today, or where is your home? It's who you are and who they are and then how you connect with each other.
You have to be able to look them in the eye and really connect and have them want to do this, and enjoy doing it. I can sometimes observe and catch a picture when let's say, if they are filming a movie, but when I am working on a one-to-one with somebody like I am with Amico, what's important is that she has to feel that she is the star. She has to know that she is the star. Everything has to evolve around it, and that for me is the real secret to my work. (Music playing.)