Summer has come to a close, but not for Regina based photographer Jonathan Chan a.k.a ATHIRDTIME. This past summer we have teamed up with Jon to take a couple street portraits featuring some of our pieces available in store. Read more about what he’s about, tips for capturing authentic portraits as well as tunes he’s been bumpin’ during shoots below:
I have been doing portrait photography for about 2 years now. I first got started shooting live music events in Regina. Having friends who performed around the city provided an interesting subject for photos in challenging lighting situations. I have the @trifectaYQR community to thank for letting me take some terrible photos of the artists, as I had no idea what I was doing when I started out.
Most of my current work is natural light portraits, which sounds nicer than ‘walking around outside and figuring out how to make photos of people’. Most of my work is about showing the subjects as themselves, as I want to be as authentic as I can with something as subjective as photography. I like the challenge of allowing a person to be comfortable enough to be themselves, and what is the best way to convey that through a still image. My goal is for someone to look at an image of themself and say “That looks like me”.
I have been shooting on a Fujifilm X-T1 for about 3 years. I originally bought it for physical dials to control the camera settings, as I primarily shoot on manual mode. This camera was very special to me, as it was the one that I bought when I wanted to take photography more seriously. I remember that I gave up drinking for around 9 months so I could afford it and a basic 18-55mm lens (it was worth it).
To me, making images is part of everyday life. I have a separate instagram account, @Athirdtime_film , where I post more casual photos taken on 35mm film. I just like the idea that a seemingly normal moment in everyday life can be noteworthy if you were saw it from a particular angle. It’s not like I am doing anything special, as everyone takes photos of things that they value. These are just the ways that I am trying to remember my life given my interest to the craft.
TIPS FOR AUTHENTIC PORTRAITS
Expect your first shots to look stiffer than your last shots. As you go on, you will get more comfortable with directing the model and they will feel more at ease with being in front of the camera. It sometimes helps to return to your starting location and re-taking the photos when both you and the subject is more comfortable.
Getting comfortable doesn’t happen without a lot of conversation. Ask the model to tell a story – something that they would be comfortable telling a stranger, but is noteworthy enough to repeat now. This let’s the subject settle into the shoot by telling a familiar story while you photograph how their expression changes.
It’s hard to stare for long and still look relaxed. Ask the subject to look at the ground for a couple seconds, and then look up when you ask them to. There is often a split second when the subject looks up when their eyes look just a little bit more relaxed and genuine, before they settle into their normal gaze.
Direct the model instead of posing the model. Posing can sometimes lead to your subject to put himself or herself in an unnatural posture. Instead, give the subject an emotion or action to play out. Remember to let them move through it in their own way, no matter how awkward or silly they think they look. I would much rather have someone be their natural, awkward selves rather than looking uncomfortable and rigid.
Remind yourself that the model doesn’t owe you any particular look on a shoot. If they are feeling uncomfortable or stressed or tired, it’s your job to help get them into the right headspace for the photos that you are trying to create. If something looks odd in the photos, keep it light and suggest a different vibe or mood to try out for the next couple shots.
PLAYLIST FOR A PHOTOSHOOT
Thanks to the good people at Momentum for featuring my work! Also thanks to Julian and Thanh for lending themselves for this little project. You can find more of my work at @athirdtime and @athirdtime_film, or at athirdtime.com. I always like hearing any thoughts (positive or negative) on what I do. Take care!
Brands: Neuw, Nike, Pleasures, Wings+Horns, Vans, adidas, Herschel and Reigning Champ. (additional clothing provided by models)