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  1. #11
    bjorke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nicole McGrade
    Bjorke, I love that shot! What lens, settings did you use on this?
    Thanks Nicole, it's a 35mm shot using an 85mm lens, wide-open at f/1.8, on Delta 400 processed in Ilford HC developer.

    Suzanne, Stieglitz wrote: "To demand the portrait that will be a complete portrait of any person is as futile as to demand that a motion picture be condensed into a single still." Which seems so obvious.


    [size=1]Beach House[/size]

    Yet, to concentrate on form alone seems to my mind to remove the idea of verbs -- even if the verb is simply "be" as in a photo of person XXX being XXX on this day, in this place, at this time in their life. The inevitable realities of those issues, to my mind, seem of far greater import than the form, even in the most polished portrait.

    Obvious formal portraitists like Jock Sturges (particularly his Irish schoolyard series) and Avedon (anything on white) seem quite insistent on this notion of "being-ness right now." And both have had long-term contacts with the subjects of many of their best-known works. I suspect that these contacts are driven from something far deeper than texture and compositional form.

    (Going back to re-read "Tete A Tete" and "Borrowed Dogs"....)

    "What Would Zeus Do?"
    KBPhotoRantPhotoPermitAPUG flickr Robot

  2. #12
    jd callow's Avatar
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    The activity itself is capturing a verb. Deepness can be what you and your subject bring to the event by your desire and their state. To recognize a significance when composing is one thing, to plan is is a contrivance -- which is fine but not my way of doing things.

    P. Pearlstien would be my example.

    It has always been my thought that artists, historians and critics’ words are great for understanding the act after the fact.

    For me it would be an entangling burden to go into a shoot with a severe understanding of what it was I was attempting to do.
    Last edited by mrcallow; 11-02-2004 at 08:41 AM. Click to view previous post history. Reason: 1st I added an image, then deleted it bad crop and scan

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  3. #13
    Ed Sukach's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mrcallow
    For me it would be an entangling burden to go into a shoot with a severe understanding of what it was I was attempting to do.
    ..And for me too!

    In the process, there is one "engine" that keeps me going... providing the energy necessary. That is the constant little discoveries: the change in the perceived appearance with a slight change in the direction of the light; the shift caused by a minor repositioning of a hand; the direction the eyes are looking in (forgive the syntax). All that keeps everything fresh, and reminds me that every image will be new.

    Thinking about the photograph is something similar to "working" in pencil sketching. Some thought/working is necessary ... there can be no image without it, but over working/ thinking is not good.
    There is the general, diffuse, misty concept ... from there "things fall into place", for a time. More pencil lines, or more positioning and direction of the model, more staring at the ground glass - viewfinder, can only degrade the image by destroying spontaneity.

    I often wonder about some, that I see with their eye to the viewfinder.... staring intently. One minute ... two minutes (or so it seems), with no other action, such as focusing. What are they looking for? What are they waiting for? .. some bolt of lightning to strike? .. or are they trying to advertise to the public that they are careful and meticulous?

    Before the large format crowd descends on me, I'll expand this a little: To "see" an image, and "set up for it", taking meter readings, Shift, tilt, swing, focus... and then wait for three or four hours for the "right light" is not overworking - is is part of the "necessary" activity ... not an extended thought process. Waiting for the light is not the same as staring at the ground glass for three or four hours.

    My opinion, anyway. Your mileage may vary.
    Carpe erratum!!

    Ed Sukach, FFP.

  4. #14
    bjorke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mrcallow
    It has always been my thought that artists, historians and critics’ words are great for understanding the act after the fact.
    Then by all means read Delacroix's journals, a fine example of writing in-process and before the fact.

    This morning I got emailed a set of little quotes from my friend Michal, including
    Quote Originally Posted by John Singer Sargent
    A portrait is a painting with something a little wrong with the mouth.
    and
    Quote Originally Posted by Pablo Picasso
    When you start with a portrait and search for a pure form, a clear volume, through successive eliminations, you arrive inevitably at the egg. Likewise, starting with the egg and following the same process in reverse, one finishes with the portrait.
    which are both adequately cryptic yet suggestive.

    The kernel that started this thread was c6h6o3's mention of the problem of "reconciliation" in portraiture. Again without his own clarification, I can only guess that he means a reconciliation of (artist's) intent with the final (sitter's) effect (I set aside the additional complications of intent supplied by others -- whether photo editors who need a shot of Xxxx for the Friday edition, or even Xxxx themselves coming into your studio and asking for a #3, please).

    What compels the photographer to choose to make a portrait of this person, in this setting? Does their intent skip across the surface or does it look for something inside? How can (should?) the photographer's intent survive the insistent presence of The Other embodied in the sittter? Is this image part of a larger multi-portrait statement or does it attempt to be the portrait, if not of a person's life, then at least of that person on this one frozen day? And crucially, which of these questions connect to us as we make, or try to make, new portraits?

    As photographers we arrive with a full flesh-and-blood person, part of the broad and overwhelming world, but we walk away with a wee colored rectangle. There is a certain gall to the act of equating the two. However much we may chose to read into a photo, it is always an ephemeral representation of something more immediate and meaty. A little taste of our own experience that we might just manage to grasp at, and hopefully share with others.

    Portraiture is certainly contingent upon the viewer as well -- if they don't know who Samuel Beckett is then the most brilliant portrait of him may only seem merely competent (my very first photo web site, with simply pictures of my children, was labelled "unknown celebrities" in recognition of this fact -- that my relatives' experience of seeing those photos would be radically different from the experience of a random web visitor).


    [size=1]Film Professor Irving Burgie, Jr[/size]

    Someone's signature here on APUG currently quotes Edgar Degas, saying that what the artist sees is less important than what the artist helps others to see. Certainly I'd agree, it differentiates an artist from a simple self-involved flaneur. So while Ed has my ear:

    Quote Originally Posted by Edgar Degas
    By means of a back, we want a temperament, an age, a social condition, to be revealed; through a pair of hands, we should be able to express a magistrate or a tradesman; by a gesture, a whole series of feelings. A physiognomy will tell us that this fellow is certainly an orderly, dry, meticulous man, whereas that one is carelessness and disorderliness itself. An attitude will tell us that this person is going to a business meeting, whereas that one is returning from a love tryst. 'A man opens a door; he enters; that is enough: we see that he has lost his daughter.' Hands that are kept in pockets can be eloquent.

    "What Would Zeus Do?"
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  5. #15
    blansky's Avatar
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    After reading this thread about the self conscious thought and the angst of people taking "portraits" I had to wonder by the responses if we are having a problem with definitions.

    What is a portrait? I mentioned in another thread, a picture of a person, has to be taken into the context and the intent that it was taken.

    Is any picture of a person a portrait?

    Is a portrait a setup controlled "study" of that persons face or body?

    Is a portrait a "grabshot" while walking down the street of a interesting person?

    Is a portrait a "snapshot" of a kid playing?

    Is a portrait a poorly lit, poorly executed, shot of a person just sitting there?

    Is a portrait a photograph of a person that includes the intimate surrounds that relate back to him/her?

    Are all these things portraits?

    Are people here far too self involved in their "motivation" as they are shooting this masterpiece?



    Michael McBlane
    I couldn't think of anything witty to say so I left this blank.

  6. #16
    c6h6o3's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bjorke

    I hope that c6h6o3 also chimes in.
    I will, but these bastards here expect me to do something before they'll pay me. So I'll have to write it tonight. I should have lots of time to bloviate as I watch the election returns come in.
    Jim

  7. #17
    jd callow's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by blansky
    Are people here far too self involved in their "motivation" as they are shooting this masterpiece?
    I guess that is what I strive not to be. It really is for me just anouther act with a camera, and my aesthetic used to filter a specific subject. I certainly appreciate Bjork's thoughtful commentary.

    I have in the past and will in the future, devise and hammer away at a theme. Avadon's "In America's West" might be of this nature -- it is purely a premeditated construct.

    Having a thought out predisposition is fine and grand things can occur (or not). I elect to rely on my inante ability when shooting people.
    Last edited by mrcallow; 11-02-2004 at 01:00 PM. Click to view previous post history.

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  8. #18
    Ed Sukach's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by blansky
    Is any picture of a person a portrait?
    Is a portrait a setup controlled "study" of that persons face or body?
    Is a portrait a "grabshot"....
    Are all these things portraits?

    Are people here far too self involved in their "motivation" as they are shooting this masterpiece?
    Aas far as the "Are theys" go ... Yes. You didn't ask for a definition that included some sort of quality factor, did you?

    Interesting that August Sander should be mentioned, previously. To me his works are all `snapshots' ... "Go stand there and I'll take your picture", but then again - *absolutely wonderful* snapshots.

    Are people "too involved" ... "self" or otherwise?? I don't think so ... but then, I don't know. Is it possible to be TOO involved?

    I'm trying to think of a Concert Pianist being "too" involved - or a Figure Skater, or a Skydiver ... I can imagine being not involved enough (really grim as far as the Skydiver) ... but "TOO"???
    Carpe erratum!!

    Ed Sukach, FFP.

  9. #19
    jd callow's Avatar
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    Ed, I think the operative word was 'self' as in too self involved. you are correct -- It is hard to be too involved with the work.

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  10. #20
    blansky's Avatar
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    Ed Wrote

    Are people "too involved" ... "self" or otherwise?? I don't think so ... but then, I don't know. Is it possible to be TOO involved?

    I think we can agree that there is a hell of a difference between "involved" and "self involved".

    If a piano player or a skydiver or a figure skater is in constant angst about what they are doing as some here have represented about their "portraiture" I would suggest that that is maybe "too SELF involved".

    In other discussions I believe you have agreed to the concept that when "involved" in any endeavor, that when we are constantly "thinking" we are not letting the creative juices flow. That was my point, but you probably knew that.


    Michael
    I couldn't think of anything witty to say so I left this blank.

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