More Portraits

Here are a few more portrait gallery additions to the Gray Scale. And some of them aren't entirely in B&W, given the realities of commercial publication (and the varying tastes of photographers — color isn't bad, it's just different). Mona Kuhn, for example, who says in an interview on Lens Culture that she prefers B&W for its "depth," despite her current fame as a color portraitist.

Why so much emphasis on B&W portraiture? Mostly because I continue to believe that portraiture is one of B&W's stronger genres, and that portraiture in general is one of the most-difficult forms of photography — despite its universal appeal, look how many sites and portfolios one can find without a single portrait. Instead we see rocks, we see skyscrapers, we see trees and flowers but portraiture... that's hard. Even most of the portraits that one does find online tend to be driven more by fashionable stylings rather than portraiture's implicit promise: that through this image you will touch. It will touch you, and perhaps you will even feel the opposite is true as well. Fashion is a mask — portraiture's revelation tries to find the unmasked individual.

Why then, should B&W be more compelling? Doesn't B&W also mask, hiding the true colors in favor of stylized ones? Yes, but it strikes us because the color is rarely what we remember about a person. Instead it's the curve of the eyes, the particular smile, the form — even for a blue-eyed freckled redhead. Instead of seeing the uneven ruddiness & blemishes, what we see in our mind's eye: the face. And within that, is where the illusion of human connection can be found.

At times I have pointed a link to just part of a site — of course, the purpose for having the following links in the first place is as an invitation to explore:

Comments on "More Portraits"

Gustav
August 15, 2005 09:58 AM

You seem to be keeping track of "real photographers", but the same seem to apply to the stuff at many of the top-ranked photoblogs; blogs that feature close-ups of things, material or natural objects, in stark digital clarity is all over the photoblogosphere. How utterly boring!

bjorke
August 15, 2005 02:56 PM

I consider photobloggers "real" photographers too, there just aren't many making regular B&W portraits. John Perkinson and Brooks Ayola (Orbit1 and Brooks Blog) are the only two I can think of off the top of my head, and should probably have been included in the list. In fact I'll add them now!

In general I find photoblogs to have a terrible sameness, it is true. Often their popularity is driven by cuteness or in some cases by the physical attractiveness of the photographer or their regular subjects. And there's a place for that. But the endless macros of lunches and so forth do get tiresome at times.

matt
August 16, 2005 07:12 AM

"But the endless macros of lunches and so forth do get tiresome at times."

I take portraits when I have willing subjects, but I always have lunch. I think getting over aproaching subjects hampers a lot of portrait photographers, and a lot of subjects just don't know that they are beautiful.

 

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