5.14.2012

Portraits. Light. Engagement.

Portrait of Sarah after a swim.

Years ago, before people got so serious and so busy, I would often ask my friends to come over to the studio and stand for a quick portrait.  One day I asked my friend, Sarah, who is a painter.  She makes art for a living.  And she swims for the joy of it.

I used two lights.  One was a big softbox, mounted up high.  The other was a small softbox just behind Sarah, illuminating the background.  The camera was a Hasselblad with a 150 or 180mm lens.  ISO 100 black and white film.

I never ask people to smile.  I ask them to stand in a certain spot and to turn in a certain way.  We shot a roll of film.  Twelve frames. Sarah went off to paint and I headed into my darkroom to develop the film.  

I like to look back at prints I've done of my friends.  It reminds me that I started doing photography for the fun of it.  That I work on projects for clients but I take images of people because it satisfies a human need to connect.  I could print this large or look at it on the screen, it has the technical finish to go either way.

People seem to think photography is all about sharpness or lack of grain and noise but it isn't.  It may be the imperfections in the processes (and the seeing) that makes images seem more valuable.  Very few people are really interested in perfection.

10 comments:

wjl (Wolfgang Lonien) said...

How true. It's the book that counts, not the cover. And yes, let's not forget about the fun part in creating.

latent_image said...

To your point about perfection, that dark wet streak below Sarah's arms is one of the things that makes this photo for me. Sarah's beauty is heightened by the visual signs that say this is real, not contrived, not airbrushed, not photoshopped. Same with the rough background.

Claire said...

I love, love (did I say love ?) your B&W portraits, as well as your writing. To me the former validate the latter, as you don't only have an opinion of photography related matters, but can back it up with mastering your craft. Those portraits are everlasting objects of admiration and viewing pleasure for me. Your talent isn't unlike that of a Richard Avedon. Keep them coming, please.

AdamR said...

I like these kind of posts the best. A great photograph, a little bit of technical information, and a lot of back story and the feelings it evokes from you.

Sure, I lust after new cameras but they're so far out of my price range that I try not to let myself get swept away comparing specs or rationalizing my urge to upgrade. Posts like this one are a nice break from the storm of utterly boring test shots and endless comparisons and remind me that my camera is not the thing that is holding me back from making better photographs.

christopheru said...

Gearheads think it is all about sharpness, lack of grain, or noise. Personally, I don't care about those things, and actually, depending on what I am shooting and what I want to present, I prefer a soft grainy photo to one that is so sharp and smooth that it does not look real.

kirk tuck said...

I'm not even in the same galaxy as my life time hero, Richard Avedon, but you sure made my day when you commented. Thank you very much. Really.

Claire said...

Ok, so now I know why I love your vision so much... We have the same hero ! Don't underestimate yourself, at least technically speaking the output seems quite on the same level. Artistically wise, I do find more similarities that you care to admit, but humility is a good thing so I'll leave you in your own galaxy. However, for me as a humble viewer, the pleasure is quite close. My hat off, sir.

Stephen said...

Kirk, For me, I like your film portraits the most. Absolutely, jaw-dropping stuff.

I am curious about work flow. How are you scanning your negs?

Thanks for your stewardship of the art.

Steve in Olympia, WA

kirk tuck said...

Steve, I scan stuff on an old Epson V500 Photo flatbed scanner with a film holder...

coolframe said...

I love your portraits. Specially this kind (the light, the relaxed expression and in B&W, either film or digital). Reading this post I remembered this phrase:
"A mistake. That's what makes the poetry". Miroslav Tichý