My initial general interest in portraiture had ultimately turned into a focus on the subject’s physical face in relation to light and shadow as a way to reveal and conceal. Concealing and revealing were further elaborated with body gestures and movement of hair which partially disrupted the gaze. In this sense, context or background noise was not very important in the final composition of these photos and was kept minimal.
I felt that in the end, the portrait’s character or personality did not matter as much as what the light revealed about the person’s face. The binary process between light and dark revealed the subject in almost an objective and sculptural manner – like staring at a photo of a Michealangelo sculpture- frozen in time, stoic, and powerful. It was as if these people could embody almost a timeless and immortal quality to them.
The process of photographing my subject was paramount to the development of my final theme. Perhaps it was the stoic personality of my subjects which lent to my interest in this subject. This was one thing I had not expected in the beginning and actually makes the whole process far more rewarding as it ultimately became about discovering latent capacities behind the subject and myself, the photographer, in unearthing hidden surprises through the interaction between the photographer and subject. The process was truly alchemical in that sense.
The photographer I am interested in is Richard Avedon. An American photographer who is famous for his captures of both high profile celebrities as well as everyday people such as plumbers, construction workers, and soldiers, Avedon’s stark and brutally honest depictions of his subjects reveal a quality in their subjects that are commonly unfound in traditional portraits. Typically shot behind a white background with few props, his photos are like one gazing through the mirror looking at oneself. Avedon, unlike other photographers of his time, also admitted his role in the shooting of his subjects as equally, or even moreso influential, that his subjects are very much a reflection of himself.
As someone who is interested in portraiture, I am intrigued by Avedon’s ability to capture people in a very unique light. I realize this has to do a lot with my ability to reveal hidden qualities of my subject. This usually involves talking to the subject and getting the subject to become comfortable in front of the camera. Also, I find that getting the subject to act certain roles may bring out a hidden quality about themselves.