December 21, 2009

Transition Part Three

I think one of the most difficult, but in the end most liberating aspects of my middle years as a photographer, was the transition from photographing people (subjects) I had carefully searched out and chosen because of their age, wisdom, maturity, character, etc., to photographing models.

This was an enormous transformation for me. I went from doing portraiture to doing something quite different. I went from photographing people of enormous strength and endurance, to generally young, beautiful, or attractive, affable people. They were not my usual subjects.

The question arose for me: How do I make pictures that have strength and intensity with people who do not generally possess it?

The answer for me lies in stepping back, rather than going forward. When I was younger, I kept getting closer, until I had removed all the artifice, until I was standing face to face with people. I would look in their eyes to their souls and I would find my own personal strength.

Now I was asked to photograph the “beautiful people.” It was not about their soul and character, but rather about their style, their beauty, or even their clothing.

Without consciously even realizing it, I learned to make the photographs despite these restrictions or constraints, even better than what proceeded it. I think the general solution became what was hidden and only occasionally expressed in my early work, and that was humor.

I learned how to step back, so that the model became a figure rather than a portrait. He becomes part of the story, reciting lines with me, rather than at me. It is a story with him as a character, a personage, rather than a novel about him.

Also particularly with the men, the story or anecdote became whimsical and humorous. It was a way to make the images as compelling (or for me even more compelling) than my earlier work, yet it is completely different. It was my way of dealing with the cards that were provided, and finding a hand that was stronger than the one I was originally dealt.

I want to wish everyone a happy holiday. I will be taking a small break, returning on the 4th of January. May the year that comes next bestow more graciousness, love, and security than the one just passing. Till next year.



  1. thank you for your words this year. I look forward to another year of monday reads!

    Peace. – Caleb

    Comment by Caleb Chancey — December 21, 2009 @ 3:15 pm

  2. Would love to know that the words say at the bottom of the page.

    Comment by Ann — February 26, 2010 @ 8:44 pm

  3. Thank you for reading. The text reads, “90% of travel is mental.”

    Comment by admin — March 1, 2010 @ 7:48 am

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