PORTRAITURE august 8, 2010
I’m (mostly) a portrait photographer. The images from USER are portraits. That’s what I’m shooting down on the corner. Portraits. But I know that they also fall into some weird space between portraiture and sociology, anthropology and document. Maybe a bit of art.
The photos are so quiet, so contained. What you don’t see in them is the chaos, all the drama that goes down on the corner. I’ll be setting up a shot and my subject is doing a hit while s/he’s waiting. A fight will break out, punches thrown. The other day Star threw her bicycle at someone.
Of course, it’s not always like that. There are also long stretches of the calm and boredom that are typical of both photographing and addiction. How can I show all that in portraits? What do portraits do? How do they work?
When I’m down there shooting, blocking shots, working with the subjects, I try to think a little bit about what’s going into my head. I try to be open to the juju, the vibe, the feeling of the people and the place and how that’s affecting me. I also try to trust my instincts and to not think too, too much. I shoot first and ask questions later.
It’s later, when I’m editing, choosing frames, that the hard choices are made. That’s when my biases move forward. I’ll only choose an image if it suits that bias, if it fits with how I feel about that place, those people. It’s not objective.
For me, that’s what portraiture is all about. That’s how portraits can begin to describe how I feel.
Excerpt from ATTACK AND CONFUSION. Buy it here.