I'd like to see more colour here, too, but just to add a couple more b&W-
Julia Margaret Cameron
this link contains one of my favourites of hers.
Below, portrait of an unknown woman - called The Mountain Nymph, Sweet Liberty, June 1866, albumen print from collodion negative, 1t has a very contemporary feel to me, within her style, which was very much of the time.
Last edited by catem; 05-23-2008 at 07:10 AM. Click to view previous post history.
Newcastle upon Tyne (UK), 1980
One of the favourites in my collection of photo books is County Fair Portraits by Mikkel Aaland. A selection of images from thousands taken at County Fairs along the West Coast of the US from 1976-80. It's a great study of how people positions themselves in front of a camera and how they would like to see themselves captured with little or no direction from the photographer - the authentic personalities seem to shine through. I have included a PDF of the introduction to the book below which is a fascinating explanation of the photographic process - quite the antithesis of the 'fine art' technical processes which abound on APUG.
Out of curiosity I just googled Mikkel Aaland and see that he is the author of numerous digital technique books and promoter of Lightroom. Well, I have some sympathy that after spending 5 years slogging away behind a 5x4 at county fairs he might want to relax in comfort in front of a computer screen for a while!
This seems surprisingly modern, and has the mix of artful and artless that I personally find inspirational:
Details here: http://lcweb2.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/...cpub,tgmi,lamb
When I reflect upon "Inspiration",
I become aware of first causes,
of the formative thing that caused me
to respond by making pictures of people.
So, I guess, when I'm thinking about photographic inspiration,
it's not the style of the photographer,
but a shared inspiration.
As a boy, on a farm, when Life Magazine came it was a big event.
Halsman pictures were the first images I became aware of
beyond my little world.
As a young man setting off in the photographic world
I was fortunate to meet both Ansel and Halsman,
they both inspired me. Ansel, to think about how I made pictures,
and the possibibility that a conventionally
unskilled person as myself might find a way in photography
to express myself. Philippe Halsman talked to me about making pictures,
of how he responded to the SUBJECT, and how the picture came to be.
Adams, how to let the Visualisation of the Image come from within ME,
Halsman, to find the Inspiration from the Subject.
Later, writing about Emerson, I discovered the importance a photograph might have
years after it was made, how Emerson was speaking to me long after he had died.
And I realised in a quiet sort of way,
that there was a PICTURE that had inspired me,
that expressed both the lesson from Halsman and Emerson,
and that Adams had been right indeed, that photography could reveal to me,
a way to express the things which were compelling.
I was in love with this picture as a child,
at some young age I learned she was my Great Grand Mother .
About the time I met Halsman, I began to spend time with our family historian,
who loved the picture too. And she showed me a picture of my Mom,
at the same age, and I saw that she was the living image of her Grandmother.
Somehow, the child recognized the image of his mother,
and the temporal paradox was gratifying.
Today, I trust to intuition when I make a portrait,
intent only to connect -sometime in the future-
with an unkown viewer who might see the picture.
The 'message in a bottle' school, I suppose.
(there are lots of photographers who have shaped
how I make pictures, how I work with light, and print,
but WHY I make portraits ? Here it is.)
Last edited by df cardwell; 05-23-2008 at 11:59 AM. Click to view previous post history.
Reason: split an infinitive. oh, snap !
"One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid,
and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision"
Sponsored Ad. (Subscribers to APUG have the option to remove this ad.)
I might add that my inspiration for posting to this thread was inspired by my desire to inspire others to be better photographers. And all this in light of the fact that I am "the mediocre photographer". Of course I receive little to nothing in the way of tangible rewards for posting here, but your reply to my comment was inspiring enough. In other words, I was driven by a feeling to a specific action. As far as being inspired by a photographic portrait simply for the likeness of the person portrayed in the photograph, I can't say that has ever happened to me. A portrait of Picasso has never driven me to paint, even though I enjoy painting in abstract. If I am inspired, I am almost always inspired to "do" something, take an action, or say something. Just food for thought, and not meant to derail this excellent thread.
Originally Posted by catem
If not already mentioned . . . Mathew B. Brady was an important figure in early portraiture. Sample Images
I really like how Cardwell put it . . . The 'message in a bottle' school, I suppose. If I have not misinterpreted the meaning . . . I think how clearly we as photographers transmit that message is of the utmost importance. I also think that likenesses created under the auspices of photojournalism are closer in relationship to snapshots than they are to being portraits. That should warm things up a bit.
Last edited by DannL; 05-23-2008 at 01:04 PM. Click to view previous post history.
Dan, when I saw the quote I had to check my own post - when I say 'today's market' I don't mean 'the art market' or any such, more 'the market-place of life'. Not quite sure why I used that word, or maybe it just looks odd to me quoted back. Not sure about 'nfluence' either ...
But, to move on..."a message in a bottle" - yes, I like that very much also, that is the great power of photography - what keeps us looking back to the past as well as to the future.
For me the power of family photographs is very strong also - I guess that's what started a lot of us off.... and also (though to a much lesser or different extent) for me the orphans, the postcards and snaps of strangers discarded and ending up in junk shops, when there's no family left who cares, but you are free to take them up...
it's about what can be revealed; what makes you remember what it's all about. And to join in all that - be a part of it yourself, leaving messages for the future - it's a wonderful thought, and a powerful one.
As for the snapshots v. portraits question, I'll skate neatly by that one for now
Excellent thread, thank you. I was just thinking recently to do something along this line, like some one said here, get out of the contemplative stage and take action, follow my gut feeling, shoot some portraits. What I have in mind is to start with family portraits and when the time comes move on to a broader project. I will submit soon for critique my first family portait taken with a 58 old camera, light measured with a 58 year old light meter - natural light. I hope it will not dissapoint; at least I will learn few things so I can improve. Yes, definitely very inspirational thread.
"a message in a bottle" - yes, I like that very much also, that is the great power of photography - what keeps us looking back to the past as well as to the future.
For me the power of family photographs is very strong also - I guess that's what started a lot of us off....
"There's more to the picture
Than meets the eye." - Neil Young
& My APUG
You can see these images at the National Portrait Gallery. I believe they're on permanent display. They're modern albumen prints from Brady's Studio's negatives and superbly printed. They're also very small (quarter plate, maybe?) but I think that actually adds to their charm. If you're around here go see 'em. You'll love 'em.
Originally Posted by DannL