Not Exactly a Portrait But One of My Favorite Working Shots.

Quick shot of a sweet kid in a CT Scanner.

Even though it's not a portrait I've always liked this shot. I took it a few years ago with a Nikon D2x (how did we ever survive with only 12 megapixels???) and a 17-55mm lens.  I lit the image by placing four slaved hot shoes flashes in various spots around the room.  All the flashes are aimed toward the ceiling except for the one in the far background.  It's feathered down to light the doors and wall behind the people.  We didn't spend a lot of time on the shot.  We had dozens to do that day.  But the interaction between the nurse in the blue scrubs and the little girl is great.

With the soft light from the flashes bouncing off the ceiling not much post processing was required.  

Just another day at the "office."  I love location shoots.  They move fast.  They require quick problem solving and you get to use lots of what you've learned to make it all appear easy for the rest of the people involved.

Shifting the discussion back to portraits.

This is Suzy.  It's a quick portrait.  No more than a snapshot.

If there's one thing the blog has done for me it's to help me discern what I like in a photograph and what I don't. For the most part I like to see people in my photographs.  And I've discovered that I'm not really at all concerned with "ultimate" sharpness and resolution or perfect color.  I'm drawn toward grainy images with implied movement.  I'd rather look at black and white than color.  I like deep, rich blacks and I like highlights that hover on the edge of dissolution into white.

I like soft, directional light that spills across a face and I find most beauty lighting as boring as the output of a photo booth.  I like backgrounds that go tremendously out of focus.  I don't like monotonal backgrounds.  I like backgrounds that shift thru a register of values. 

It's hard for me to make a portrait I like if I can't make some sort of connection with the person I'm photographing.  Doesn't matter if I "like" them or not but I have to have some understanding of who they are in order to continue into the process.

Like any other creative process there is a resistance I encounter when I start to think about creating portraits.  Resistance tells me that everyone is too busy to come and sit for a portrait.  That I need to do something different with my lighting and taking portraits would be a futile waste of time if I haven't figured out my new lighting yet.  And there's always the idea that there must be a lens and a camera out there somewhere that would do a much better job making portraits than the ones I have in my hands.

In a very real way this blog is a manifestation of my resistance to moving deeper and deeper into making portraits.  Why bother to call and arrange rendezvous and set up lights if you can harvest the past and pontificate about the future?  Why? Because like the sharks artists need to continue to move forward to breathe.  

I think we'll spend the next few months shooting and writing and reading about portraits.  New portraits.  In fact, the re-invention of the photographic portrait.  Not more quick hits on the street.  A more focused intention to see people and share what we've seen.

This is not my blog. Please read this blog!

I got a taste of this blog from Rob at APhotoEditor.  If you don't know his site you should.  The taste led me to find the original blog and I read it.  It's exactly what I feel about photography, postprocessing, etc.


Read and discuss.  But remember, it's Derek Shapton's blog, not mine.

Today is the first day of SXSW.  Thank you to all the people dressed in black who've come here to learn, create and add dollars to Austin's tax base.  We love you.