Weekly Photo Challenge – Selfie / The Art of the Portrait
“All photographs are self-portraits.”
This week Cheri has challenged us to share a “selfie”. Like most photographers, my lens is typically focused outwardly – we tend to let our photographs speak for us. But a challenge is a challenge so I’ve included the shot of myself above. I made this one while exploring some of the many charms of my home city, Charleston SC.
Coincidentally, our photography group on Kiawah is focused this month on portraiture. While the shot above is, I suppose, a self-portrait, I thought I’d take this opportunity to share some of my favorite portraits of others – all of whom are far more interesting than yours truly 🙂
“When you take a photograph of someone, you take a portrait of their soul.”
The photograph above is one of my personal favorites. The obvious affection between the horsewoman and her mount makes me smile each time I look at it. To me, the portrait captures the spirit of both the woman and the horse, making the feelings of the subjects clearly visible to the observer. I also like that the photo was made within a few miles of my home, showing that exotic travel is not a necessity in order to make a memory.
“There are only two styles of portrait painting: the serious and the smirk.”
Some portraits allow the photographer to cast his or her subject in a humorous light. Little did these two wonderful Tango dancers in La Boca realize how silly they looked under the watchful eye of the graffiti tourist behind them – or did they????
“Every portrait that is painted with feeling is a portrait of the artist, not the sitter.”
Sometimes a portrait is a result of serendipity. Originally, I was drawn to the woman above because of the sun backlighting her hair. Only later did I realize how strikingly beautiful she was, with her incredible eyes and her richly-colored scarf.
“The countenance is the portrait of the soul, and the eyes mark its intentions.”
Marcus Tullius Cicero
While it’s true that the eyes are the portrait of the soul, sometimes a portrait need not include them to make a statement. In this case, the back of the subject tells a great deal about her, perhaps more even than might a view of her face.
“Ultimately success or failure in photographing people depends on the photographer’s ability to understand his fellow man.“
Speaking of scarves, how differently the young man above wears one! These guys were our guides as we trekked through the glorious mountains of Argentina’s beautiful Patagonia. There aren’t many men who can get away with a headscarf like this one and STILL maintain uber-machismo!!
“When I say I want to photograph someone, it really means I’d like to know them.“
While traveling through Southeast Asia, I found myself fascinated by the many monks, most of whom went about their days without a care for the ever-present tourists and their cameras. I particularly liked this portrait because I felt it captured a moment of supreme concentration in the subject, oblivious to his colorful surroundings, the trappings of the task at hand, and the lens focused on capturing the moment.
“It is more often the good psychologist rather than the good photographer who makes good portraits.”
Sometimes it’s the enigma of the photograph that makes it interesting. For example, I find myself wondering about the mood of the gentleman pictured above, which I shot during our recent visit to China. His furrowed brow made me think he was puzzling over a complex problem, but then again, he may just have been a generally serious person pondering a recent conversation or planning for some future challenge. The portrait, however, leads me to wonder – which was the point of the photograph in the first place.
“Photography records the gamut of feelings written on the human face, the beauty of the earth & skies that man has inherited, and the wealth and confusion man has created. It is a major force in explaining man to man.”
Finally, one of my favorite captures ever, which I call “Girl at the Pump”. An example of an environmental portrait, it captures the young girl within her usual surroundings. The idea of such a portrait is to better portray the life of the subject as well as his or her physical features. The great Henri Cartier Bresson, considered the father of photojournalism said: One must always take photos with the greatest respect for the subject and for oneself”. I especially like this capture because the subject was not posing and yet if I had wanted her to pose I could not have found a better environment to portray her life than her connection to the simple task of water collection in Cambodia.
With apologies for putting a bit of a different spin on the “selfie” challenge, I invite you to click here to enjoy a first-hand view of some other bloggers’ responses.