I recently came across this video that shows a couple of ideas that are really central to taking good photographs, of capturing great interviews. I genuinely believe it actually spans the medium of your art, and can clearly play a key part on any image you capture as a professional photographer or filmmaker.
It's, of course, a publicity piece by Canon but it still touches on something pretty easy to forget for most people, but something that is so central to everything we do in photography and video.
First of all, I find the tag line a little bit misleading: "A photograph is shaped more by the person behind the camera than by what's in front of it".
I find this not totally the truth. But... it also is kind of the reality of it all. In this case, they have someone act out different personalities portraying different people the whole time, so it's natural that different photographers would capture different essences of each person. But, it also shows how important the photographer's perception of reality is.
When I have someone in front of the camera, be it for a photo session or a video interview, I try to create a space of intimacy, comfort, and total relaxation. I want to find out more about the person, I want to know their life story, what drives them, their struggles, basically their thoughts about life, loss, and love. It's fascinating what you can capture when people talk openly and honestly about these things, and I've had some of the most unforgettable conversations with sometimes total strangers because of this.
I think being a good photographer and filmmaker implies that you're a good storyteller. You're a good listener. You connect with people. You are present. You are an observer. I try to do that on my daily personal life when I interact with people around me, friends, family, or strangers. It's always an exercise for your own training when you actually have someone in front of your camera. And it's insanely beautiful when you connect and capture the essence of their personality and story.
And what this video shows beautifully, is that it is also your own story.