This photo is of Karen, my wife and partner of these past 32 years, taken at Ramsgate beach today.
There is an awful lot written into photographic portraiture. This image is posed and deadpan, but also casual and unplanned and doesn’t, if I am honest, capture the essence of Karen. To do that I would need to photograph her doing something, rather than just standing, looking at the lens. But for all of that I like the image because it offers a direct relationship between Karen and the lens and my low angle of shot and setting at the seaside puts me in mind of Rineke Dijkstra’s beach portraits (link) save for the little distortion because Karen is leaning forward.
I’m really interested here Pete because this is what I’m grappling with at the moment in terms of portraiture and capturing the essence of someone. “Doing something” can just be a readiness for actions, in process of, all those tiny nuances that make us ‘human’.
True Catherine, I think many of us have dominant aspects of our identities – so eg my mum is about her home making and cooking, dad’s has changes and so now is frailty and Karen’s would more likely be doing something in the garden or with clothing rather than standing looking at the camera. Of course such identities are multiple and dependent on context eg work/home/sport but even though I like the image, its not really an authentic representation of Karen in the sense of a portrait – its much more a snapshot.
It’s more about animation in the face as opposed to an expressionless look that can sometimes happen in portraits so that the face looks more like a mask.
Very true, Id not thought of that aspect of portraiture.
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