Waiting 11 Hours for the Perfect Photo

Some photography sessions are so long, they induce “battle fatigue.” But just when artist and subject are about to quit, “the picture comes.”
  • Transcript


Question: How do you interact with your subjects so as to capture their true selves?

Carol Friedman: You can’t play jazz without mastering improvisation and if I make the metaphor that a photo session is like jazz that’s, you know, because there is interaction between the players and you’re trying to get to the emotional core of things and it is paying attention to each other and capturing something.  You’re after something together.

Question: Do the best pictures emerge only after you find a “rhythm” with your subjects?

Carol Friedman: Sessions can last... you know, even though it’s not a session, I mean, I have a photograph of Francis Ford Coppola that I particularly love.  It was just one frame shot in an ocean with a play camera, but it’s waiting for that right moment and that right exchange.  There are photo sessions that last 11 hours and the person feels like they’ve done battle and you know, and at the end, end, end of their worst battle fatigue, “Let’s do one more roll,” and the picture comes there, so sometimes… And it has to do also with the person’s… the person’s self-knowledge and confidence.  There are certain people that you don’t have to even work at extracting their inner life.  It is just there and they’re happy to share it with you.  Bobby Short, you know, I think the third frame that I took, bing, bing, bing, that’s Bobby.  He had nothing to hide, loves who he is, knows who he is, and other people, it’s a little bit of digging sometimes.

Recorded on April 21, 2010
Interviewed by Austin Allen