What I've found to be one of the most important factors of photography is having a connection with the subject that is being photographed. Yeah, I can point my camera at someone, something, or somewhere...snap the shot...process it...and be done with it.
However, the photos that this process usually produces lack a certain kind of soul, as in, they seem flat.
Now, what do I mean by connection? What I don't mean is love or endearment to the subject. You can have just as much of a connection with a subject you find unfavorable as you do favorable.
A connection with a subject is an understanding and knowing of the subject in so to being able to convey the essence of their presence through the lens of your camera.
For me, having a connection with my sons is easy, I'm with them everyday. I know their quirks and subtleties. So being able to express who they are through photography is easy for me.
Like when I ask the boys to pose for shots, which I rarely do anymore, I know I'm setting up the shot, but I still want to capture who they are by means of expressing their personalities.
Take this shot for example, I took it in 2009 at the Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival. I knew very well that taking two active boys to a tulip festival was going to yield no smiles or joy...I knew this, cause I have a connection with the boys. This photo captures their pensiveness to being somewhere they didn't want to be. You can tell that the boys aren't enjoying themselves from the way that Alerick is slouched over and Garin has his brim down low.
Having a connection with the subject has another major benefit, besides better quality photos, which is you're not fighting with the subject as much or at all. Trying to frame a shot that is highly impossible tends to ruin shoots real quick...having a connection, an understanding of the subject, only aids in the flow of the shoot.
Final thought...this is one of my favorite photos in my collection. It was one of my first successful forays using Photoshop as an actual photo editing tool. I was able to understand the concepts of using the selection tool, masks, and layers. This photo is also one of my favorites because, it's one of the rare photos I have of both the boys together. Alerick and Garin are oil and water...they go together, but they don't mix well. So to have a photo like this in my portfolio means a lot to me.