I'd also say that approach is a long way removed from the overly contrived photography which is swamping the planet. There would be many reasons for that. Not looking at it from an intellectual standpoint a principle reason for this flood of what in many instances amounts to junk is the onset of the digital era where the camera actually takes care of too much. It removes the need for talent, training, and thought. People simply shoot, look at the image and feel very clever.
Our approaches to portraits differ widely. I come from a media background and often it is necessary to make a single picture tell a broader story. I'll post an example with this.
When we spoke I did make the point that viewers do like some information about pictures. I'm a bit tired of the Paris, 1938 style of caption. Again, that comes from a media background where often a picture had a great deal of value added by way of an extended caption.
Your current portraits, the style of shooting - the simple lighting, plain background and very simplified technique which boils down to a couple of sheets of film, is courageous and allows no room for an error of judgment. The end results show something of the soul of the subject and to be able to achieve that is nothing short of a minor miracle. The whole approach demonstrates the KISS principle - Keep It Simple Stupid - works.
I'll drop in one of my favourite pics and caption here followed by one which I snapped after your recent shoot.
|Joe Sommerfield and Agnes, Kingston's Rest, The Kimberley 1993. © Roger Garwood & Trish Ainslie|
Joe and Agnes have been companions for much of their lives. Agnes was married to a tribal aboriginal who had excessively associated with white people and for that he was speared to death. Before he died he last request was to Joe, asking him to look after Agnes. Joe did that until the day he died. A week after joe's death Agnes was moved into an aged care facility in Derby. A week later the camp was looted.
Joe wears a belt in the picture and he said that he stole the buckle from the bodies of one of two members of the Durack family who had been speared and killed by local tribesmen. He quoted, " ... and they didn't kill people without good reason ..."
The picture was shot on 4x5 neg by Trish Ainlsie and me while we were working on "'til She Dropped Her Strides" a book about the Kimberley which we produced in about 1993. The one thing about shooting with a large camera on large tripod is that you have the undivided attention of the subject.
I've used this picture, not just because it's one of my favourites but because with a wider viewpoint, taking in the camp, clothing and other detail, like chooks and water tanks, a great deal of information is given to the viewer. The caption helps to round off a bigger story.
Now, if you don't mind Dewi, I'll post a shot of Shan taken when I was there recently. I have to say I take no credit for this. I simply moved in when you had finished your shoot and squirted off a digital pic.
|Shan, Esperance March 2011|
In a day or two, for the next post, I'll outline my system of contact printing which is a very important link to film exposure, processing and to dispensing with test strips in the final printing process. I'd like to demonstrate it to you on my next trip.