May 27, 2011. Writing, inspired by a photograph
I enjoy the collaborative aspects of making a portrait.
Years ago, I made my first portraits using Polaroid 665 pos/neg film. It was a revelation. That film’s immediate image granted comprehension and enabled a collaboration well beyond mere compliance. An invitation to active participation can liberate a person unused to being photographed… or bring on a lurking insecurity.
Which means there are times when such awareness might slam the door on a moment of rare insight, or lose an insightful portrait to artificial posing; good reasons to be observant, and prepared before the session begins.
Digital makes this simple yet powerful sharing a significant moment in modern portraiture, and few people grasp the transformative power of the digital darkroom or the perils of tipping your hand too early. To get it right in the camera, in the moment, is a good goal, and often means the best work is done before the actual session even starts. Good planning supports spontaneity.
Then there are those exceptional personalities who remain oblivious to the very notion of a photograph, not buying the idea that an image that might reveal one’s very soul, or the secret thoughts constrained just beneath the surface of the skin. They will only give you a moment, and are endlessly and earnestly pressing on to the next thing that needs their attention, like that chicken in the garden.