We interrupt my usual cynicism and gear rants to enjoy a portrait of a beautiful woman.

©2011 Kirk Tuck Photography.  Austin, Texas.

People who don't do portraits have odd ideas about the process of making portraits. They seem to think that you can meet, greet, develop instant rapport and slam out a masterpiece all in the first session with a complete stranger.  Might work sometimes.  But rarely for me.   Here are all of my secrets.  Practice, practice, practice.  My best portraits generally happen on the second or third session with a sitter.  WHAT?????  Multiple sittings?????  Yes.

There's a difference between a retail portrait sitting that conforms to both a standard style and a standard expression, and a portrait sitting that's done because you want to do portraits as art.  When I photograph some of the people you see in my blog posts the best photographs come from long term relationships with models.  Not romantic relationships but shooting relationships.  We both enjoy the process and we collaborate and creating images.

I photographed Renee Zellweger off and on for nearly a year and every session looked and felt different.  Now I have a three ring binder full of images and it's easy for me to narrow down and find the expressions that resonate with me.  I photographed Lou Ann probably once a quarter for several years and Michelle at least four times before I got the images I liked.

While this might not be a workable solution for "enterprise" or even just good business, it's a great way to get images that stand the test of time and of which you can be proud.  And it's a great way to fill each other's portfolios with work that speaks to something more than just commerce.

The image of Amy, above, came from a fun, long session with Amy and my dear friend Renae G.  While this image didn't jump out at me in the year after I created it I was looking through old files today and came across this take again and made a scan.  I like it.  It took time for my tastes to catch up to my intuition.