One publication that influenced me at a young age, and still continues to influence me, my work and continuously push the creative bar in photojournalism, wildlife, and landscape photography, is National Geographic. Besides the aforementioned styles of photography they are known for, some of the most striking images to grace their pages over the past 30 years have been photographs taken of people from all walks of life. From a starving African village, to a war-torn Eastern European nation, or something simple like kids enjoying summertime in New York City, Nat Geo has developed the axiom on which to base all people-based photography on.
Besides shooting people in their natural element, this extends to shooting models, brides/grooms, family members, strangers, musicians, athletes, or any other person of interest in a natural, or staged environment. Shooting people is like shooting anything else in photography, no matter who the photographer is, setting, lighting, etc. a different and unique photograph will develop based on the skill of the picture taker. But one thing that is separate this genre from all the rest, is the driving force behind each photograph of the subject: Backstory.
The story behind an iconic photo is what makes it so, important to the lexicon of someone’s body of work. It could be someone struggling with addiction, or they are on top of their game, someone in a conservative environment doing something unconventional, or a moment of peace in a war ravaged country, all of these things speak volumes beyond the actual picture of the scene that is presented.
This is why taking pictures of people continues to move photographers and audiences so much, humans are so unpredictable, to be able to capture a moment of sanity amongst the insane is a gift that escapes the most technical photographer and paints a picture beyond the photograph.