on portraits...

Discussion in 'Photographic Discussions' started by mysteryscribe, Nov 28, 2006.

  1. mysteryscribe

    mysteryscribe TPF Noob!

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    Now I don't know where this really goes... hell I don't even know for sure what I'm going to say just yet.

    I guess what I am interested in knowing Is:

    (since everything about photography is fluid even though everything still comes down to what the public will accept in the end. Us old guys call it dummy down, new guys probably call it change in perception. Either way I wouldn't feel right in a learning situation if I didn't ask you.)

    What's the most important thing in a portrait. Yes it's a bait question but we might all learn something.
     
  2. Michael Humle

    Michael Humle TPF Noob!

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    The most important thing in a portrait would have to be....a subject!
    ....I'm sorry, I just couldn't resist....;)
     
  3. mysteryscribe

    mysteryscribe TPF Noob!

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    And what makes you think that is a wrong answer....... but lets say your answer is THE subject not a subject.
     
  4. danalec99

    danalec99 TPF Noob!

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    The 'conversation' it has with you, the viewer. I prefer a story than a Post-It.
     
  5. Michael Humle

    Michael Humle TPF Noob!

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    Sometimes my sense of humor is very dry and without clear thought...I did not mean to offend...
     
  6. mysteryscribe

    mysteryscribe TPF Noob!

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    None taken at all.... actually it is a good answer
     
  7. dgs

    dgs TPF Noob!

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    It is an interesting question. I think the answer is a moving target.

    I have an old, old portrait of my great grandparents on the wall. I don't happen to know the technical term for the technology used, but it's one of those oval pictures in a plaster frame. The image itself is dome shaped . . . it's not flat. I could dig out the genealogy and date it pretty closely, but off hand I'm guessing 1890's. But I digress.

    Among the interesting things about the portrait is Great Grandfather's shirt. It's collarless, which is not particularly uncommon for the time, although what is uncommon is that he didn't have or didn't bother to attach the customary detached collar and wear a necktie. Apparently this bothered the studio printing the photograph and someone penciled in a necktie. Outline only. It looks really strange. And tells something about the photographer (or at least the processor) as well as the subject.

    There are many very young photographers on this board. Although I wince a bit from time to time at some of the technical questions posted, I'm finding myself totally fascinated by a vision that's about as alien from my own as I can imagine. These folks couldn't care less about neckties. I like that.

    I have photographs on my wall that span over 100 years. I'm not sure one can define a continuity or progression, but there is certainly a range. I hope that a portrait I make ten or twenty years from now will be able to stand apart: not only revealing a bit of the subject, as any portrait should, but also giving some hint of the time and place they inhabit.

    Daryl
     
  8. itoncool

    itoncool TPF Noob!

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    THE subject... I couldn't agree more...
    I always believe that their expression takes the biggest part in a potrait
     
  9. Alison

    Alison Swiss Army Friend Supporting Member

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    For me it's the eyes.
     
  10. Mr Avid

    Mr Avid TPF Noob!

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    I'll take it another step further....

    Its the Emotional Statement made by the subject. Or perhaps "Emotion Evoking" Statement would be a better term.

    A photo that evokes emotion in the viewer is a Portait. Anything less is a mug shot.
     
  11. fmw

    fmw No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I made this shot at a family gathering on Sunday. I believe this young fellow is a grand nephew in law if such a thing exists. It was just a family snapshot.

    [​IMG]

    However, the boy's mother went nuts over it and I made an 8 1/2" X 11" print for her. Her comment was "you captured his personality perfectly." I did no such thing, of course. The child displays his personality because it is what it is and the camera simply recorded him.

    But my point is that the young fellow was simply doing what he does in a familiar and comfortable environment. He wasn't posed. He wasn't trying to look one way or another. He just grinned at the camera and I got a candid shot. So a portrait should capture a person naturally so that the person's personality isn't hidden. It should try to capture a person, not just a person's features.

    My favorite portraitist of all time was Arnold Newman, the "inventor" of environmental portraiture. He always included things in the portraits that spoke of the subject's life or interests or environment. That is why his portraits are so powerful.

    The shot above is certainly no Arnold Newman but it does practice what Newman preached and that was shooting people doing what they do in a familiar environment.
     
  12. mysteryscribe

    mysteryscribe TPF Noob!

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    The nice things about a discussion like this is you don't just learn from what other people post, you learn what you post as well. You get to see a little bit of yourself that you might have never written down before. A feeling not expressed sometimes goes ignored.
     

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