The point of everything I've had to say is that it gets me what I want, not that it's right or wrong for anybody else, it works for me, folks who see my portraiture have to decide for themselves if it works for them, I believe that's a given.
Richard Avedon along with David Bailey and Francisco Scavullo and Andre Kertez were a neverending souce of inspiration to me, everyone of them amazed me with their imagery, although I've never had a chance to meet any of them, I consider them mentors in a way. I hold them in high esteem, because they were often as not successful in what they were trying to achieve.
The mark for me is not whatever style(whatever that means) you appear to have in shooting the way you shoot, but did you do what you wanted to do, and in that sense, I look at other people's work.
As much as I admired Richard Avedon's work, sometimes a shot of his didn't work for me, so when you talk about him or anyone else, I tend to reserve judgement until we're in front of an individual image. Several folks have a style which is essentially........'don't make any faces, just look into the camera'...............if this works, and the most important thing is using whatever works, then you should use it.
The idea behind what I'm saying about portraiture is always take bits and pictures, even big chunks if you can from every source you can find and incorporate into your learning curve if you can use it. Underlying all this is that nobody is/was going to be Avedon like Avedon was, or anyone else, so just be you, and use what you can use from everybody else in terms of inspirations and imagination.
Try Konstantin Stanislavsky's books on acting: 'An Actor Prepares' is the one I remember most. They give you a tremendous set of tools, and vocabulary, for analyzing what you see. Also Charles Darwin's 'The Expression of Emotion in Man and Animals' -- old but unparalleled.
Originally Posted by arigram
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One point of clarification regarding what you said Cheryl..........
...........and the original question, which was this........
..... 'Often you want to express their sincere personallity which asks for honest expressions and dress according their personal style and maybe occupation, but other times you want to bring out a certain character and create a persona. Stress out the beauty and sexuallity, the strength and seriousness, sadness and desperation or create a unique fantasy scene.'.
...and particularly this part of the question......'create a unique fantasy scene'.........
........in terms of the 'found person' type of shot, or 'candids', or 'snapshots', or images shot w/as little 'structure' as possible, I did that, cut my 'eye teeth' shooting in Mc Arthur Park in L.A., as a young man, I had only a Nikon FTN and a 35-85 varifocal lens and nothing else. I shot what was there, no posing, no theatrics. I've shot several different ways, regardless of my studio portraiture, which is my thing right now, and I think the real point, is to learn how to shoot in as many different ways as possible.
A case in point would be the example of Avedon which you brought up, now he shot some very theatrical shots, his 1954 fantasy shoot of Marylin Monroa...............his theartical shot to the max of Natasha Kinski and the snake, he tailored his abilities and choices to the subject matter.
Now juxtaose this with Avedon's images from his 'American West',.......whichever way he shot it, the images worked, and that's the real point, you learn how to shoot as many ways as you can, less so if you shooting for yourself, moreso if you shoot for clients.
But regardless of how you shoot, it's all theatrical, it's all illusion, Avedon suggested at some point that his shots were 'put ons' and they are, no image from any style/genre is any more/less real than any other........a well done theatrical image by Mortenson or Karsh to me, has just as much value as a jounralistic shot by W. Eugene Smith.
No matter what you do, you can get away from the fact that you frame something in/out, you choose something at the exclusion of something else, you pick an exposure, and not another exposure, and so on, your choices as an artist put your stamp on the image so that ultimately the final image, is not the same reality as the thing it represents.
So I'll sum this up in that it's all good if it's well done, regardless of style/the way you did it, they all count, and that you ought to be able to do it different ways.
You got a guy whose written a book about a lot of this, here on this thread...............Roger Hicks.
Also I went back and revisited the website of a guy who's no slouch at capturing feelings, his shot 'Mother and Daughter', made me wish I could jump in the frame and hug them, is so warm and sincere, this is on John Nanian's website.
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Jonathan, I answered the original question. If you'll look over my response, I advised deciding what the PHOTOGRAPHER wanted, and then devising a way to pull that emotion (or the appearance of the emotion) from the sitter. That is decidedly not the same as a natural or "found" portrait.
In order for the sitter to portray it, the sitter has to feel it. That's where the photographer's understanding of his story and his understanding of people and human nature come into play.
Cheryl..................'Jonathan, I answered the original question'................I never said you didn't, ...........my response to you was my input about your reference to Avedon in terms of what I had to say, and the implication regarding how he shoots, this is what you said.......................'Some, Avedon for instance, did not take that approach'..................which is incorrect, he took exactly that approach when he was involved in the highly theatrical shoot portraying Marylin Monroe as 'Mata Hari', and the Natasha kinski shot w/the snake, they were highly staged.
Avedon shot different ways at different times in his career, and his shooting style ran the gamut from the highly staged studio portrait to his work in the 'American West', that's simply a fact.
Alright, then, modify my post to read, "Some, Avedon for instance, did not take that approach in the work for which he is best known."
I highly recommend the book _The Model_ by William Mortensen. Unlike some of his books, this was can be found for reasonable prices, and it's terrific!