It’s around midday on a Saturday and I’m stood outside Tariff & Dale wondering why I swapped the warmer climate of Essex for something as bitterly cold as the day was. Today was about method, but I didn’t know that yet.
I was meeting with Kate Anita, a Singer and Songwriter from Manchester that wanted to get some shots that reflected her and her Americana vibe.
Kate arrives and we go for coffee at Takk; my gut tells me she's apprehensive so it becomes my mission to make her feel comfortable. Every photographer goes through this important stage of a shoot, aligning to where someone's at so you're getting the best view of them.
As it turns out, Kate and I get on really well and conversation comes easy. Before long we're both laughing and deciding what our favourite films are and, more crucially, what Hogwarts houses we're in (she's Ravenclaw, sadly).
"You have a way of making people feel really comfortable." Kate tells me (naturally, I'm flattered). I work hard to make people feel like this - it's an incredibly difficult feat for most to be in front of the lens - exposed and putting your trust in someone to represent you correctly. It's this which leads us onto discussing my method.
I'm driven by exploring and understanding people and representing them in a way that's accurate and surfaces something deeper. Sometimes, of course, discovering what makes people tick can be a challenge. As indeed it should be; the reward comes from this exploration - finding paths which connect you and seeing the branches which splay out and show you who someone really is. It should not be easy to find this and on those rare occasions where you're presented with an open book, it often means the opposite.
This understanding of someone is of paramount importance to me. Some photographers will rock up and shoot without much research, or they'll shoot someone in their vision (and these aren't incorrect techniques, of course - creativity is subjective and therefore so is the method) but I draw my value on showing people in their truest light. If people place their trust in me to do this, it's only right I have a good understanding of who they are.
Don't fall into thinking this is some grand ethical position though, it's born from a love of being absolutely fascinated by people. Seeing everything they are, all lights and darks and midtones, the moments that have made them, the things which have shaped them and the catalysts that have made them adapt.
Shooting with Kate really made me reflect on my approach and how my method shapes the shoot and what I draw from it. Looking back at shoots where I haven't had the chance to undertake this way of working, I can see the detriment in the quality of the shots. Experiences like this help me shape what I do for people in future - and includes lending the right time to include this part of the process on every occasion.