Wednesday, November 28, 2007

"People in general are not that attractive"

Kudos to Liz for her self-directed yet public assignment to make one portrait of a stranger each day throughout the month of December. It's like a photo version of an advent calendar. If only I had the courage...

Though I've made a fair number of pictures with people in them, and admire those who do it well, I find solace in Eggleston's response to a query about why he photographs flowers and dogs, "... I approach a picture of a dog exactly the same way I do any other picture. The compositions are free. I've never known why there are so goddamned many pictures of people. People in general are not that attractive."

For me, the challenge of portraiture is in capturing, or perhaps inducing, some sense of authenticity in a contrived situation. My favorite portraiture leans toward the incidental- sure the framing, and perhaps even the location has been arranged and thought out, sometimes there's even been hair and makeup, lights, assistants, etc., but in the final picture that makes its way to my eyes, there's still an element of tension, of authenticy, that comes out of a fleeting moment, gesture, or relationship. Or, in some cases, the person photographed is simply just another another element in an interesting picture.

Doug Dubois

Chris Buck, Wes Anderson for Premiere, 2004

Michael Schmelling?, MIA, for Spin, 2004

Tierney Gearon, Diane Keaton for the NYTimes Mag, 2005

Joel Sternfeld, from Sweet Earth: Experimental Utopias in America


Scott Lessing said...

Gotta love Chris Buck and Wes Anderson. A great photographer photographing a great writer/director. Very cool.

nicholas gaffney said...

Right on. Too many photographers lean on a pretty/interesting-looking model in lieu of actually creating a good picture.

jane said...

people are def. hard to shoot. i think that stranger-a-day would be great practice~

Blake Andrews said...

Disfarmer fan?

robert said...