I was recently published in Deloitte Review for portraits I took of the most cited computer scientist in the world. Alex Pentland is also an entrepreneur, teacher and the director of MIT’s Dynamics Lab.
I was only allowed twenty minutes to work with him in between talks he was giving at the MIT Media Lab. That is never enough time, but I tend to thrive with limitations, as long as I plan accordingly.
I spent a couple hours reading about Alex’s work and watching his interviews. It’s important to know as much about your subject as possible before the first shutter is opened on the shoot. Otherwise, the quality and success of the photographs are in jeopardy and the lack of confidence and preparation is subtly highlighted in each frame. I was ready to talk to Alex about his work with the physics of our social environment, only to have him change the subject immediately and share stories about his cross-country motorcycle trip.
I don’t ever force things on a shoot or ever ask my subject to smile. I try to maintain a loose, fun atmosphere and let our conversation determine the vibe and feeling of the photos. Alex was a pleasure to work with and seemed like he’d been through the media gauntlet before. Taking little direction, he appeared photogenic and gave a friendly attitude. You can view some of Alex’s amazing work here.