Trevor Godinho – Storytelling through Portraiture

Trevor Godinho – Storytelling through Portraiture

Submitted by Elaine Galbraith Atkins, HCC member

The question was: What kind of camera do you use? The response: There is no correct answer to that…I’ll shoot with anything, even a pin-hole camera. It’s not about the camera…’s what you do with it. “The best picture tells the right story.”

This conversation took place during the Q & A session, with our guest speaker Trevor Godinho. The subject of the evening was Storytelling Through Photography.

Trevor started the evening by sharing how he discovered his passion, initially encouraged by his father with a hand-me-down camera. The path took him from simply doing a job and earning money with his camera, to learning that he wanted to shoot people who had stories to tell. He is still amazed by how opportunity has opened doors; for example, his connection with a friend allowed his first celebrity shoot, with the actor Michael Douglas. Early on he was invited to shoot at the TIFF film festival in Toronto. His advice is to “always say yes”.

His favourite photographers have always been those in the entertainment industry, and he has studied their techniques in magazine work, especially their use of light. He has always loved fashion and glamour, and those photographers were his idols. As a result, Trevor has a lot of references to pop culture in his “back pocket”, and they allow him to improvise when on a shoot, in addition to researching in advance when possible.

His work has evolved from magazine shoots of women in bikinis, to work with celebrities and corporate clients, to projects involving notable athletes and military vets. He wants to recognize vets from the Cold War in a project, and is working with NATO. His most recent project is called inFRAME.

Trevor started with environmental portraits, and his go-to lens is the 35mm. He uses minimal equipment, and prefers to use available light, shooting wide open with shallow DOF. He does hand-held shooting when possible, although he will use a monopod. If he adds lighting, his preference is to use a single source to mimic the sun, and the effect should be subtle. He gravitates to black and white, and makes use of strong shadows. Recently, his style is evolving to making use of plain black or white backgrounds, easy to set up and dismantle. Trevor likes the way they eliminate distractions, and allow the expression of the subject to be the focal point.

He is not a fan of Photoshop, and prefers to get his shots right out of the camera…less time at the computer, and more time shooting.

His method is one of collaboration with the subject, one where the subject gives energy back to him, after he has developed a rapport and earned the trust of the subject. He starts with what the subject wants from the session, but his goal is to get what he wants, which is ultimately to exhibit the subject’s character. He does this by talking to the subject, all the while getting closer with the camera, and capturing natural movements.

Finally, Trevor feels strongly that photography is an art, and that all artists should be paid for their work. He uses Instragram and his advice to his audience was to “show your work.”