Come As You Are [creating an authentic portrait under-cover!]

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If you haven’t seen the movie American Hustle yet – go now. Stop reading this blog and get in line at your nearest theater. You can read this later.

But if you’ve already seen it, I hope you were as equally blown away as I was by the depth of these characters, beneath their 70’s clothing, hyper coiffed hair, intimidating sunglasses, and occasional fake accents. Without giving away the story [I promise I wont!] there is a scene in which the character played by the brilliant actress Amy Adams makes a strong argument to a  critical FBI agent that we all use some kind of ‘cover’ in life, and it’s not such a bad thing. In fact in her particular case it was a survival mechanism as well as opened up a few opportunities she may not have normally had – including love.

[OK, I promise my lips are sealed about this film for the rest of this blog! And I hope you have at least gone on to Fandango by now to buy tickets.]

I recently had another under-cover experience in my world of portrait photography with a wonderfully bright and fashion conscious 13 year old girl, Betsy, who I’ve known for a very long time. I was not too surprised when her mother called to schedule a photo shoot with me, and asked me what I thought about Betsy wanting [more like insisting] on wearing a much loved and worn Harry Potter costume she has owned for many years. She is, and always has been  CRAZY about anything Harry Potter – smart girl that she is. That fantastic story resonated with Betsy’s childhood years so profoundly that she seizes every opportunity to don her signature replica H.P. quidditch cape. [And if you don’t know what quidditch is, stop reading this blog right now, and  go to your nearest library….wait, never mind!] My point is, what better opportunity than having a portrait taken  for Betsy to pull out the cape. In a way, it’s her “cover.” And more importantly, it is her wise and authentic self demanding to be documented. What a great opportunity she saw.

My response was, “Of course I think she should wear it. Every day if possible. But seriously, yes, definitely tell her to bring all her Harry Potter ‘gear’ and any extra stuff I might want to wear!”

Ahhhh, if only all photo shoots could play out out so well. As a picky portrait photographer, my biggest desire is to capture something deep and real about a person. This week, Betsy, along with Amy Adams have taught me that a clever “cover” may not only be the ticket to the kind of honest portraiture I love to create – it seems fairly essential when involved in an FBI sting operation.

Darn’t, I’m trying not to give that plot away! Well, hopefully you have driven to the theater by now and are already in line.