Can you really capture someone's essence in a photograph? By essence I mean someone's character. Who they are, not just what they look like.
I looked back on some of the portraits I have taken of people. Some I know well, others not so much. Still more were strangers. I came to the conclusion that the individual has to become trusting of the photographer before they will 'show' who they are to the lens.
But it isn't that simple.
The people whose portraits I take as clients, NEVER choose the same images as I would. So does that mean they are different to the person I think they are. I would say in all cases the answer is yes. We are not the same person to all people.During the 2 years when I studied photography at Reading University, I had to discover my own way of representing the world via my camera. I guess people spend a lifetime 'creating' who they are, and therefore how they may wish to be portrayed. And how they wish to be known in different circumstances too. I was taught that an image is a dialogue between the photographer and the viewer. The better images are those that tell a story - or that the viewer can create a story around. Every viewer's story will be as individual as they are and so they wish to show the world is how they currently feel they want to appear.
They say the camera never lies. I think it simply reflects a dialogue, when taking a portrait, of the relationship between the photographer and their subject. Is that their essence? I think that is subjective.