Before reading on, I want you to watch this video:
For those of you who aren't familiar with his work,
That's Jordan Matter, arguably the most popular dance photographer on earth, right now. He boasts 1.5 million Instagram followers, 2.4 million fans on TikTok, and over 4 million YouTube subscribers. He's an immensely talented photographer who not only manages to take technically spectacular dance and movement photos, but manages to infuse them with so much personality and emotion, which is what makes both he and his work so famous.
Inspired by photography Goliath Henri Cartier-Bresson, who viewed the taking of photographs as the capturing of a 'decisive moment' (and who's work and contributions to street and editorial photography could be a blog post all their own), Jordan is always seeking ways to make each and every photograph he takes tell its own, unique story; one which captures the personality and emotions of the subject contained within. Because of that, his photographs are individual works of art and he's adored by his clients and fans alike.
I've had the immense pleasure of working with Jordan a few times, over the last couple years, and have learned SO much from him. The image in the header for this post is from the summer of 2019, when I worked with him as he shot contortionists Anna McNulty and Georgia Bryan. Jordan's technical skills are unmatched and his eye for composition and timing are unreal. But the real worth of Jordan (and every good photographer)'s work is in the emotional impact it creates with its audience. Which is a very good segue into this blog post's main content: highlighting a few of the reasons why photography and photographers are SO important!
Photographers Help Provide Self-Esteem & Confidence Boosts
One of the things I hear most when giving clients their final edits is something along the lines of: "Wow, that looks really good," "You're a really great photographer," or "Man, you did a really good job!" When that happens, I always make it a point to reply with "You're the one in front of the camera! You did all the work!" That response typically doesn't yield a verbal reply, but I often see a big smile. And not just one of those school photo smiles, but a genuine, almost bashful, yet full of pride, smile.
I think it's incredibly important, as a photographer, to take the time to really congratulate each person brave enough to be in front of the camera. Modeling is hard. Posing is weird. But when someone is willing to go through those awkward arm positions, hip and waist turns, and to put up with my haphazard singing (it really happens) during photoshoots, they deserve credit. And seeing their eyes light up when they see how beautiful, handsome, and/or talented they look in their images is the greatest gift I could receive.
In the video at the top of this post (you DID watch it, right?), Jordan surprises a fan who wrote to him about how his videos and photos inspired her to keep practicing and staying positive, even through the death of her father. It's an incredibly moving post that perfectly showcases the power photographers (and artists, in general) have to make this world a more beautiful, more positive place!
Photographers Create Time Capsules
Remember back in school, when you had an assignment which required primary sources? Photographs are fantastic primary sources and photographers are creating tiny slivers of frozen time with each and every click of their shutter. As such, photographers are equal parts artist and historian. Take our earlier-mentioned friend Henri Cartier-Bresson; who documented some of the most pivotal portions of the 20th century, such as events of WWII, Ghandi's assassination and funeral, the Chinese Revolution, and more with his 35mm film shots:
But maybe history isn't your thing. No worries at all! But I bet you have photos hanging on your wall, on your refrigerator, and especially on your phone or computer. Those are all time capsules too (ESPECIALLY your mirror selfies!). In fact, in a fascinating survey/art collaboration done by Foster Huntington, called "The Burning House", people were asked to send in a photo (interesting!) of the most important things they would grab if they woke up to find their house on fire. The majority of submissions have either photographs, cameras, portable hard drives with digital photo files, or all of the above in them. You can check out a selection from the book here
Photography Transcends Language and Unifies Us
Non-verbal communication is something I've loved studying for years and years. I find the ability to innately communicate, without verbal language, fascinating. To that end, great photographs communicate very effectively, too. And all without language.
Take this wedding photo, for example:
You can see the happiness. You can feel the excitement. The joy is visible within the image.
Does it matter that this wedding took place in Hungary and its participants likely speak an entirely different language than that which you're reading right now? Nope. Not at all.
(By the way, I did not take this picture. It's merely one of the many which Google provides when you search "Hungarian wedding". So that's cool.)
Now, I did take this image! And as I detailed in last week's post on headshots, it's unbelievably important for actors to communicate with just facial expressions. Armando does that brilliantly in this headshot, which oozes a mysteriously dangerous, yet attractive feeling. When you view this image, as an observer, you feel like he's staring straight out of the photo, right at you personally. He's broadcasting an air of dominance (and he'd be perfectly cast as a villain or anti-hero, for any casting directors who may be reading this).
Now, at A2 Pix, my goal is to accomplish all three of these things during each and every shoot. Anyone having their photos taken deserves to look and feel amazing, both during the shoot and in the final images. I aim to create memories for you and yours to cherish and appreciate, especially as you age. I also do everything I can to make each and every photo session unique and individual to the person in front of the camera. One of my first questions when setting up shoots with new talent is: "If you only had one word to describe yourself, what would that word be?" I ask that because it's a great starting point in creating a photoshoot experience that's custom fit to YOU.
"Creating beauty, greatness, and wonder with YOU, to make our world a more fascinating place."
If you've spent any amount of time on my website or Facebook page, you've likely seen the above quote. Surprise! It's from me. That's my mission statement at A2 Pix. I want to create art: be it dance, headshots, circus acts, model development, beauty/boudoir, whatever. But I want to create it with YOU, because you're a beautiful and talented person. Maybe you don't feel it all the time, but you are.
And I'd love the chance to prove it to you.