I often wonder if there’s some force that pulls photographers behind the lens—or if we just run there for fear of having our own pictures taken. And is it a similar kind of self-doubt—or just the artistic temperament—that causes some of the best photographers to continually strive to be better, to often feel like they’ve fallen short? Uncomfortable in front of the lens and unsettled behind it, it’s safe to say that photographers can have a complex relationship with their craft. This tension is what makes Dani Diamond‘s “The Project” all the more interesting:
In an interview, Diamond confirmed the awkwardness on both sides of the camera, saying:
“Shooting photographers is so nerve-wracking! A mediocre photograph just won’t cut it…I can’t remember a photo shoot where a photographer didn’t say ‘I don’t know what to do in front of a camera! I never come out good in pictures’ or something along those lines.”
So there’s a guy who’s a nervous wreck taking pictures of a person who’s uncomfortable having her picture taken. If that sounds like a recipe for disaster, that’s because I tried to make it sound that way, for the sake of a little drama. Everybody—photographer and photographers—has been very happy with the results. Diamond spends some time chatting with his peers/subjects prior to the shoot, and then they walk the streets till the light is right. He says he shoots his portraits almost exclusively with his Nikon D800 and 85mm prime lens with the aperture wide open. Watching the video, you see him and his subjects in many visually interesting locations, which his f/1.6 aperture distorts into some stunning bokeh. At first, I thought it was a shame to waste such good backgrounds, but when you look at his shots, you can how see they really work; the backgrounds consistently match or complement the colors of his subjects’ skin tones, clothes, hair, and eyes. And the expressions that he captures show anything put a person nervous in her own skin having her portrait done.
Diamond’s taken some remarkable shots, and The Project has taken off. When he started The Project, he had to solicit amongst his circle of friends—real-life and virtual—to find people willing to sit for him. Now, with a Facebook group that’s got nearly 700 members, he’s been inundated with requests. The group’s photo album has all 22 portraits he’s released so far, and Diamond posts when he’s traveling to some place new and is looking for more subjects.
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