Tomorrow starts the 2005 Pacific Art League Annual Photo Exhibition and the photo above (actually a small crop from a much larger photo) will not be on display. One very much like it, however, is…
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:
Today’s list: a quick alternative to just poking ‘“black and white” portraits’ into Google yourself.
Truth is, doing that will generate dozens of links to shooters of “classic” imagery — that is, just the sort of “timeless treasures” that people want for their weddings or to remember their children when they were still obedient enough to sit still in front of a roll-down backdrop for an hour.
Anyhow, here are a few alternatives that sprang readily to mind or crossed my browser after a half-hour of digging around. Some have been mentioned here before. Hardly an end-all list — rather, a few small hints that might indicate the shape of a much larger survey. Suggestions are always very welcome.
Afer a few pokes at this particular issue, I’ve added a filing category to this journal, specific to the question: where can I find great new black and white photography?
While the flow of published entries on photorant has been slow for the past few weeks, there’s still been some writing going on — writing that has stayed in draft form until either the ideas shape up or I have the time to beat the shape into them. This is one of a couple of rambles that arc tangentially off group discussions from flickr.
You may consider it incoherent babble, that’s fine. Feel free to tell me so.