After four years calling myself a photographer, I found myself in a rough place artistically and professionally. I’d literally dedicated my everything for four years of my life to being something that I wasn’t sure I wanted to be anymore. I thought I’d lost the one thing in life that I love more than anything else in this world and that was devastating. I decided to spend some time figuring out what I wanted to do with my life. I knew photography was a passion since it drove me more than anything else ever has, but I’d recently found myself dreading my work instead of looking forward to it. I spent countless hours trying to find the right way to describe my thoughts. Literally 60 pages of ideas, ramblings, and tangents typed up in a Google doc, just trying to get everything out where I could see it and makes some sort of sense of the madness.
Ultimately, what drives me is human interaction. Using my unique combination of talent and skills to do things that others can’t. To help people see the best version of themselves. To see themselves through my eyes.
Allure meaning to powerfully attract or charm; tempt. Ism is a distinctive practice, system, or philosophy, typically a political ideology or an artistic movement.
Allurism is a photographic art movement with focus on expressing the subject’s most alluring features, expressions, and qualities through the use of psychology. In practice, the artist or allurist might use one or all of the three main focus areas in their work.
FEATURES: The allurist MUST be able to find something attractive about their subject to direct focus towards. These features may not be readily noticeable and may include any part of the subject’s physical self. The eyes are always a great place to start, as it’s a very neutral place that nearly all people are able to perceive their own unique beauty. Positive reinforcement and complements to this area can warm a subject up, foster a great rapport, and build photographic confidence.
EXPRESSIONS: A person’s facial expressions can make or break any portrait. In order to capture a person’s most alluring expressions, the allurist must often elicit the genuine expressions shown by the subconscious mind before the conscious mind has a chance to ruin them with insecurities and/or inhibitions. Body language goes hand in hand with facial expressions, and poses are dealt with similarly. Posing is more easily faked, but will still always look better if done more naturally. I tend to put my subject in a general pose and allow them a range of movement.
QUALITIES: There are inherently attractive qualities to find in everyone, however those qualities don’t always translate very well to an audience. Self confidence is one of the most vibrant and beautiful qualities a person can have that translates extremely well to nearly all audiences. The well practiced allurist can help their subjects rid themselves of insecurities and inhibitions in front of the camera that will allow this quality to shine. Possibly the most rewarding part of this entire movement is when those qualities translate into the subject’s daily life.
Art is and always will be subjective. One key point that separates the great artists from the rest is a transfer of emotion. Artists that can transfer emotion from their work to their audience will always have the larger audience than those who can not.
The only way to consistently create this transfer in portrait work, is to capture real moments. The following three are the methods I rely on most to get those moments.
First is pure luck which happens when photographing an emotional event happening that requires no input to capture real emotional scenes. Weddings are slammed full of these emotional moments for the photographer trigger happy enough to capture them.
Second is to stir a reaction in the subject. Say something funny, test their metal a bit, or make them describe the best day of their lives. Awkward laughter isn’t always bad as it means you’re pushing into uncharted territory. No matter the situation, the goal is to force the conscious mind to concentrate on something other than being in front of the camera, while simultaneously bringing up pleasant, well developed memories for the subconscious mind to release uninhibited, real expressions in response to.
The third, and most advanced method is transference. Transference is something we all do subconsciously. It is the mirroring of feelings from one person to another. Confidence, and feeling comfortable with the subject are an absolute must. To make a person feel happy, be happy. To make them feel attractive, be attracted. It sounds pretty simple in text, but can easily have adverse awkward effects with too much intensity or an improper read.
The best photographs I’ve ever taken are of people I found attractive that I had a fun, friendly, or sexually charged rapport with. Adversely, some of the worst images I’ve taken of attractive people, were those that I was unable to get past their guarded, scared, or stuck up exterior. Personality has everything to do with allurism. Advanced personal skills are a must which requires continued practice, and experience with a wide variety of personality types.
I’d very much like to expand my study and grow this portfolio building exercise into a full time career. In an effort to make that a reality sooner than later, I’m trying a different pricing approach which requires no up front cost to shoot, minimal cost for minimal releases, and mid range costs for full releases. This gives me the freedom to pick my clientele, cut back on advertising, and avoid the pressure that comes along with possibly failing on an expensive shoot. The shoot is the fun part, the part I’m studying, the part there should be no stress involved in. In the future, around 200 or so unique faces, I will be creating a coffee table book, and possibly publishing some sort of instructional journal or course with my findings. I’m looking for women ranging in age, perceived attractiveness, and confidence level to participate in this study. The prints and digitals will be available for future purchase. I will be posting a blog post for each session including a few edits of my favorite pictures from the session.