In a recent magazine interview, the reporter asked me how to pose subjects in groups: How do you get them to "not appear simply as two individuals?" My knee-jerk reaction was to think of the work of Jonathan Canlas and the profound influence it has had on my approach to family sessions. There are two ways that one can view a photographic image: either attend to what is physically present in the photographic frame, or attend to one's emotional reaction to it. Often times, a given photographer surrenders to one feeling or another when they go to capture their imagery. But Jon's work doesn't make you decide. Looking at his portrait work is like drinking a cold glass of water on a hot day: it shows the viewer, simultaneously, what they want to see emotionally, and what was actually there physically. As such, his work feels real and new and easy and refreshing. Colors are smooth and easy, skin tones are realistic, subjects are positioned beautifully, and yet my desire to see the love and emotional connection between his subjects is also satisfied each time, and with an uncanny level of authenticity.
Jon Canlas is a family man. This is true both literally (he has 6 kids), and figuratively, as seen in the values he holds in his life and work. After taking one of his FIND workshops last may, I walked away awestruck that I had just met an incredibly talented, powerhouse photographer who still managed to prioritize his family life. His photographs, time and time again, reflect those values.
- Cat Thrasher