I've been on a real portrait kick recently. When Viara and I have done couples shoots over at Quirky Love, I've made sure to incorporate some standalone portraits of the couple, but each person individually. I also took a few of my boyfriend in December which I am personally in love with, but that could also be the subject matter ;). I am really enjoying the process of collecting these images. I also believe that a lot of people don't often have portraits of themselves, at least, like the ones I've started to take. Usually photographs are of you and family, or you and your significant other, or you at a party, but not often just you. And just your face. There can be a lot vulnerability there, and it can take a lot of courage to allow a photographer access in that way. Since I first starting photographing things and people, I have always been drawn to candid work, using principles of documentary photography to inform my practice. Confronting portraits in a more intentional way is new for me. Starting out in the last few years in wedding and family photography has really made me think about the origins of photographing people.
I'm not blazing any trails with my portraiture, that's for sure, but we'll see what develops. I'm really inspired by people like Richard Avedon, Chuck Close, and Bruce Gilden. Both Diane Arbus and Nan Goldin are close to my heart. I love these two women and their influence on me is unquantifiable. They both photograph people, but neither are what could be considered conventional portraitists. They're in a different realm, really.
Each of those artists have very different aesthetics, subjects, and, motivations. Many of my favourite of Close's work are his paintings, not his photographs. BUT they are all still portraits, for the most part, they're all just pictures of people. I love animal portraiture, too, which is a whole other wonderful sub genre. I do love taking pictures of my cats.
If you look at a lot conventional portraiture, there's often not a whole lot of difference in the basic composition. Not much has really changed from the eras when portraits were mostly painted, not photographed. A lot of the lighting is still the same, the basic poses haven't change much either. It's the faces that change from portrait to portrait and that's what makes them so interesting to look at. Of course there are objects people chose to hold, clothes they wear, the environment in which they sit; but for me it's the expressions, the wrinkles, the freckles, and intangible qualities that I enjoy the most. Many portraitists will tell you that they have different was of engaging with their subjects to tease out some essential quality of their personality. Or perhaps the photographer just waylaid them in the street and blinded them with a flash, like Gilden.
I am still exploring this process in my own practice. We'll see where it takes me.
The pictures below are from another shoot I did with my friend and very willing model, Gytha. You've definitely seen her around these parts before. I shot on both film and digital media. I have separated them under two different headings as I like to look at the differences, if there are any at all. I'm a grad student, not a billionaire, so they are scanned at the lowest (ie: cheapest) resolution at my local film place (shout out to Camera Kingston!)
Editing down to a manageable number of images is a skill I need to work on!
Get ready for a whole lotta Gytha!
Places I've been, people I've seen.