Obama, Clooney, Clinton, Putin; they all need their picture taken. Whether it be for an article, editorial, magazine cover or even personal portrait, every one of these figures has to trust someone to complete this surprisingly daunting task. Conceptually, that's not a shocking reality, though it's often taken for granted. These beautiful portraits of leaders all requires an artist behind the lens.
Recently I got to experience an fantastic presentation given by arguably the most masterful "behind the lens" artist, Platon.
"Photography can be a volatile situation. It can be very potent."
Platon has successfully captured portraits of some of the most loved, and some of the most hated in our time. He recognizes the challenges of interacting with "difficult" clients such as Putin or George W. Bush, Difficult in the sense of security, or just in the sense of fear. Considering "camera shyness" or even just the lack of comfortability to be yourself, Platon works to break down any barriers and is successful in getting to know his subjects before trying to capture them.
He describes how being a photographer is a "transition of power" especially when some of his subjects are the most powerful people in the world. To let your wall down and allow a photographer to be in control behind the lens isn't easy. Once Platon begins to get to know his subjects better and helps them to recognize their strengths, they come into their personalities more. It's evident in his work when he shows a portrait before he's conversed and after. Zuckerberg goes from a terrified and awkward small man, into a confident hoodie-wearing tech tycoon that he is; he seems more real.
"Photos communicate what we perceive." — Platon
Platon describes the greatest challenge of being a photographer, perception. Since his work is all visual, each viewer has their own response to his work, good or bad, It teaches him to be intentional and aware of his work to avoid "telling people what to believe." He believes that photography exercises the right to freedom of speech though he does not aim to slant his work. He wants to show only exactly what the subject wishes to share.
To engage further with Platon and his work, you can watch his episode (7) on the Netflix Abstract series as he delves deeper into the subjects and the experiences that they shared. It's inspiring to learn more about these incredible and fascinating people he shoots, but it's even more refreshing to remember that like us all, they are human. I'm grateful that Platon strives to humanize them more and share more insight into the life of others.
All photos are done by Platon