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Shutterstock Portrait Studio: John-Finnigan Lin at CreativeMornings/Ottawa

For the last three years with Shutterstock, we worked with photographers to capture the spirit of CreativeMornings’ attendees in chapters around the world. Together, we’ve collected over 2,000 portraits.

A good portrait tells the truth about a person in that moment in time—not the whole truth, but close to it. It’s an intimate dynamic that requires connection, patience, and acuity of the subject’s spirit.

We interviewed each talented photographer to learn to see what they see when they raise the camera.

Meet John-Finnigan Lin, designer and photographer based in Ottawa.


What is it about portraiture that inspires you?

It is always fun to capture the little quirks of your subject. Those quick moments, usually lost between eye blinks, can be frozen in time and tell interesting stories about someone’s personality and their state of mind.

Portraiture is a personal exchange—how do you get your subjects to open up? What do you say or do?

It depends on the nature of the project. If it is marketing oriented, you want the subject to be project qualities that are helpful to get the buy in from the target audience. There are certain qualities that reads really well. However, if it’s not marketing related, a more artistic approach is more appropriate. Listening to your subject is the best place to start.


At what moment do you know you successfully captured someone’s spirit or personality? How do you know?

It’s like food. The captured moments either taste good or it doesn’t. That, and in combination with the feedback you get from your subject. Sometimes, they just have to align their own expectation of the self and the image you captured for them to be content.

What advice would you give to people just picking up a camera, ready to explore the wonderful art of photography?

Always have the camera ready, shoot a lot, make a lot of mistakes and get all the feedback you can get for improvements.


See more of the CreativeMornings/Ottawa portraits.

Discover more of Hannah’s work on her website and Instagram.

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