Angles and Color.

These aren't the kind of images I make to generate money or business. I like them because they are quiet and fun for me to look at. It's easier for me to imagine them as art on the wall than portraits, which in most cases are too personal or two direct to be good, long term art for display.
I think portraits work best in book and magazine form. The exception is family portraits displayed in the context of the family home. But even there a portrait that is as much about art as it is about paying homage to the family member doesn't wear well. We can look past mediocre technique to the naive display of a cute expression and of happy moments but when we attempt to elevate the portrait of a family member to fine art the weight of the exercise seems to embue the presentation with a level of pretention that cripples the enjoyment of the representation.

In this regard I believe that we want our portraits to fall into a set of boundaries that includes lighting formulas and variations on basic poses. This allow the portrait created for posterity to gain a timelessness that attempting to overlay fashion or current editorial styles of portraiture rarely achieves.

While none of the work above passes muster to go up on the walls each of the images engages me for reasons having to do more with design, color and forced angles than timeless contextual value.  These are all things which we find engaging in and of themselves. Many of the images we take are never intended as fine art or even survivable art. Like a pianist or guitarist who practices scales we are practicing our own visual scales and doing our exercises in spatial and tonal problem solving under relaxed conditions. If we practice well we can bring the understanding of design and color to our more serious work.

I included the final image because the building somehow makes me nostalgia for a time in the past when buildings were built on a very human scale in Austin, in particular, and Texas in general. This building, which now houses an ad agency, represents the accessible style of the late 1950's and 1960's. Even the scale of the windows and offices seems more welcoming than the sterile and efficient architecture I see in so many of the newer buildings. That alone makes the image interesting to me.


Anonymous said...

You have said it so well -

"I like them because they are quiet and fun for me to look at."

Well, a lot of people do not see it that way, I am afraid. They do not understand that someone will take a shot of a building just for his/her own pleasure, because they like the shape or size or background or angles or colour.

Art is very personal and we all attach a different meaning to it.

Claire said...

I have to disagree with you. Portraits (or environmental ones) are the form of art I'd want most on my walls. I want a picture to trigger an emotion every time I look at it. I have a famous James Dean photo (black and white, not at all unlike your own portrait style) in my guest bedroom (which my four year old has been using as her spare bedroom for six months)and just could stare at it for hours. If I could only find my favorite Rudolph Nureiev shot by Richard Avedon in print, be sure I'd nag my husband into having it in our living room. The only issue is that I wouldn't be very efficient after that, I'd spend too much time riveted to that pic.

mshafik said...

These and your B&W portraits (which always gives me a lost-in-deep-thoughts & solitude impressions) are my favorite pictures you post, I always wonder if I can train my eye to look at architecture in the same way you do. Please keep posting them.

thequietphotographer said...

I like that in your last picture here, on the bottom you can see the reflections of another building (probably same age or older) with a few tree branches. It's a small details but also contribute to make the photo warmer and more human friendly. But I imagine when these buildings have been build they were very modern and probably seen as cold compared with the older ones at the eyes of many people...
PS: asking myself: would I hang in my home on of these? Probably not, but I would hang one from your portraits, yes, for sure!

Dave said...

I think of the portrait of Kate Middleton that was just unveiled... It seems like they were going for art and missed Kate.
There is a lot to be said for creating what pleases yourself as an artist. Doesn't matter what the rest of the world thinks