I had a meeting Friday with a local photographer to see if he could employ me as an assistant or second-shooter. He said that he would add me to his on-call list. In preparation for the meeting, I had to compile a portfolio of sorts to show him my style and approach. I looked over work I had done over the past couple years to see what I could show. Above, I included some of the [digital] portraits I showed him.
There are so many different ways to approach portraiture. There are many different factors that contribute to whether or not a portrait is successful. How do you use the available light? Where does the subject go in the frame? Is it a posed or candid portrait or even a combination of both? What makes this portrait better or worse than the next one? The questions can go on and on.
I have two books currently checked out. One is by Annie Leibovitz and the other, Richard Avedon. When I look at their work, I wonder to myself: Why do I like their work so much? How do they go about getting such fantastic portraits? From my own experience with portraiture, I think the answer lies in the vision you bring and your technical experience. Your vision drives you towards a successful portrait and your technical experience helps you achieve that portrait.
Part of the reason I am drawn to work by Annie Leibovitz and Richard Avedon is my love of film photography. It has a language of its own. I have not taken my 35mm camera out in a while, but when I do, it is like spending time with a beloved friend. There is little to no auto functions on this camera and I choose not to use the ones that are there. There is just a fantastic quality to the camera… being able to have complete control over the camera, the richness of focus that the lens can achieve, and the suspense of whether a photo will come out well. Between Annie Leibovitz and Richard Avedon’s use of film and their vision, I am inspired and can only dream that I can ever achieve their level of talent and skill.
Below is a photo of my 35mm film camera and some of the photos I took for my first photography class at the university. My uncle gave me this camera many years ago. I doubt either of us had any clue back then that this camera would change the course of my life.
I hope that technological advancements do not drive out 35mm film from the marketplace. Considering that tintypes and large format cameras have been in use for over a hundred years, I hope that 35mm film will be able to stick around a bit longer. Hopefully, Annie Leibovitz and Richard Avedon will continue to inspire portrait film photographers for many decades to come.
Below are some film portraits I have taken over the past couple years:
When people ask what type of photography I am into, I do not have a definitive reply yet. I am drawn to photojournalism, but also to anything that is beautiful. I think it is too early to know where life will take me in the photography business.
Photographers are storytellers. What stories will I tell?