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Making portraits

Posted by shermancharles on September 21, 2007

© Sherman Charles

Jeff Singer made an interesting post on his blog about what a photographer’s images say about him/her. For Jeff, specifically, how he tries to make his portraits subjects look cool.

That immediately got me thinking how do I try to make my subjects look in a portrait. When I am photographing someone what would make me happiest? Do I want them wild and crazy? Maybe that aloof, disconnected look? (think contemporary fine art).
Quirky? I really thought about this because there are definitely ways that I would prefer my sitter to be. Namely relaxed, a little contemplative – what I call the “soulful look”. Ultimately themselves. But maybe themselves make for a not so interesting picture (terrible thing to say). I sometimes say, “if you can’t be who you are….be who you want to be..” If that makes any real bloody sense. Ultimately a portrait really says just as much about the photographer as the person. As the photographer you are imposing your own vision, your sense of a person, onto that person. It’s similar to meeting someone new, someone you like and to whom you are really drawn. Without really knowing that person, are we attracted to who that person truly is – or who we would like/hope them to be.

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