Ive spent many years studying photography.
Light. Cameras. Color. Emotion. Film...
In all that time, with all of the technical things Ive learned, I find that I keep coming back to one fundamental principle...
The most powerful thing in photography is simply Love.
What it comes down to is this:
If you have no love in your heart when you press that shutter, that photograph will be no different than a Xerox copy. Sharp, perfectly lit, and heartless.
When you let yourself love who or what is in front of your camera, you have something to say. You have something that is worth sharing with the world.
It doesn't matter how many people tell you to do it a certain way. The bottom line is, if love doesn't press the shutter, your voice fades into the background.
But Love shouts from the roof tops.
When you photograph someone, let yourself be vulnerable. Really look at them. You would be surprised how easy it is to find something you can love about someone. The more you do it, the easier it gets. Then a strange thing happens. You start seeing those things even when you don't have a camera. And people feel it. They don't know why, but they feel encouraged just being around you.
Sometimes I forget this. Right now, I remember.