The Genesis

Michael Austin Stevens - Profile Image by Neal Schlosburg

The Begining

Mr. Stevens contacted me to photograph his business profile image for LinkedIn and other social media. He was a lifelong military man transitioning into the civilian work world.

A Formal Portrait Session

The photo session was brief and straightforward. Austin knew what he wanted, and we completed the session in 10 minutes. After a short discussion, I agreed to do a second, casual portrait.

An Unexpectedly Differant Session

After taking two exposures, I wanted to do something spontaneous. I suggested to Austin to physically express whatever his feelings were right then. I asked him to wait until I walked back to my camera. When I returned to the camera, I would press the shutter release immediately. We both agreed to stop there.

Michael Austin Stevens

Michael Austin Stevens - "Can't Find My Way Home"

Post Production

One day later, I started the post-photo session work in Photoshop. The business image of Austin was a straightforward, classic profile photo. The second image was a different story altogether. It was a spontaneous, emotional image photographed in a portrait setting. I let the emotion of the image carry my artistic instincts.

Can't Find My Way Home

I sent the finished images to Austin. Commenting on his second portrait, I informed him I would redo it if he did not like it. His response was, "Don’t you dare touch it"Can’t Find My Way Home title by Steve Winwood.

I Did Not Anticipate That

After Mr. Steven’s reaction to his spontaneous portrait, I showed the image to fellow photographers. I was hoping for input on the quality of the photo. That is not what I received. After conveying the backstory, the reactions were personal. “I have been there.” “My brother went through the same thing.” “That’s me; I know exactly how he feels.”