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Shutterstock Portrait Studio: Tora Chirila at CreativeMornings/Montreal

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 Tora Chirila, photographer & makeup artist.


What is it about portraiture that inspires you?

The people that I meet, and getting to hear and capture their stories. Portraiture for me has been a sort of door opener to get to know people I would otherwise have no reason to be around. And it’s always special, I get to learn so much and I get to absorb in a way and share, little glimpses of 1000 different lives. It’s enriching, inspirational and humbling at the same time.

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

At first most people feel lost, and they don’t know what to do, so I guide them. That’s when they start relaxing and gain confidence in me. Then, we start talking, we have a little laugh, we share a couple stories and we get to know each other. I am really friendly and social so this part is easy for me. My goal is for them to get over that initial awkwardness and forget that they are in front of my lens and be natural.


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

Sometimes I see there is something special about that photo that makes it stand out from the rest of the set, a certain emotion. Other times, it’s that person’s reaction to a particular photo in the set, when we browse through the photos at the end of the session - that “OMG” moment, when they truly find themselves in a particular image. But most of the times it’s a combination of everything that goes into that photo: the framing, the decor, the background, the person’s emotions and interaction with the camera, everything ties in together and tells a little something about that person. And there’s that moment when they forget they are in front of my lens, leave their guard down and they are just themselves. That’s when I know I successfully captured their spirit.

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

Take photos every day. And don’t wait until you’re ready/a professional/buy that pro camera or whatever else to start sharing your work. We were all beginners once. And if your goal is to make photography your profession, then find out what type of photography you love the most, and devote yourself to it 200%. And remember: Photography is a journey, not a destination. Enjoy every step of the way!


See more of the CreativeMornings/Montreal portraits.

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

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