2.19.2014

Portrait of a New York Photographer/Artist.


This fellow artist dropped by while I was model shooting in New York and I asked him to sit for a couple of minutes and have his portrait done. It's one of my favorite portraits from the week.

Amazing to me that he was able to shut out the hundreds of people swirling by and give me his full attention and collaboration.

Simple lighting. Simple camera work. Mutual cooperation.

today's schedule:

I'm off to shoot a children's play.  It's The Cat in The Hat. It's on the Kleberg Stage at Zach Theatre.  After the play I'll be heading over to a telecommunications company to make portraits of their CEO and some of the new company officers.

But as I was packing and double checking everything I had a thought just pop into my brain. I'd been reading about the slow food movement which is all about taking the time to do things right and the time to enjoy not only the consumption but also the process.

And I wondered if people might enjoy photography more if we slowed down a bit more and.....savored it. An example is the image above. It was shot back in October but I only really started mulling it over a few days ago. And I let it sink in before I did any (small amount) of post production and then posted it.

I think my interest in slow photography was initiated by three or four articles detailing how the sports photographers in Sochi at the Olympics are moving so fast to get literally millions of photos to the public in record time. And how soul robbing that must be to the photographers who must think of so many different parameters as they shoot. Lao Tzu said that when we concentrate on the future we bring anxiety into our lives. And when we concentrate on the past we bring depression into our lives. How can sports photographers savor the present moment when they must be overwhelmed with the process of getting the images off the cards and into the waiting eyes of web surfing sports fans everywhere?

Anyway, I haven't really thought it through yet but I'm going to let the idea of slow photography rattle around in my brain a bit and then figure out what I really want to say.

In the meantime I will be thankful that the work I shoot today isn't due until sometime tomorrow, at the earliest. And that after shooting the images I'll have time to chat and pack up at a leisurely pace. It's not glamorous like the Olympics but neither is my work a constant source of adrenaline poisoning... Something to ponder.

Slow Photography? Thoughts?

9 comments:

Ray52 said...

Hi Kirk,

A word of warning, make sure neither Thing 1 nor Thing 2 get near your kitbag.

Great portrait today, thanks.

Ray

Mike Rosiak said...

View camera and tripod. Minimum 4x5.

Anonymous said...

Yes, it's a mindset thing.
I believe that the same people who are drawn to and enjoy the slow food concept would also enjoy photography more in slower pace. When it's more about experiencing, enjoying, seeing and learning, instead of just about performing and devouring. It's a similar thing.

But it's not necessarily everyone's bowl of soup, though. Some people will always rather go for the quick nosh at the fast food joint, and sometimes they'll have little choice. Like the busy sports photographers in Sochi.

But the concept of slow food and slow photography is certainly valid, and isn't that really what (the lure of) photography as a hobby always was about, at some point? Before it becomes about gear and performing. Or a profession.

So yes, feel free to start a new Slow Photography movement. :)

Rufus said...

Slow photography? I completely get it.

For me, this also touches on the issue of if having a camera actually detaches us from events, rather than being immersed in them. I think about the gear heads at Disneyworld snapping their kids with a D800 and feel sorry that they have elected to be the "camera guy" rather than enjoy the moment.

I guess it is different when you are shooting for a living.

I think the gear you use can have an impact. If you don't need to capture sports, who cares about uber-fast cameras? Yet, the gear heads are constantly lambasting cameras ( and the people that use them ) that encourage a slow technique.

Everyone thinks speed is correlated with quality. Which is, of course, nonsense.

Racecar said...

Couldn't help but notice the 16:9 aspect ratio of this portrait. Quite a departure from your past. Actually works well too. Makes one ponder the obvious: you've turned the "portrait" composition (i.e. vertical format) round into a "Landscape" format and made it work. Good job! I suppose rules are made to be broken. Or rather "rules" can be ignored and still produce excellent results.

Dierk said...

before I saw Mike's comment, I was thinking the same:
large format with 5 or 10 sheets of film and you think 10 times and walk around, before you decide to shoot - after aligning the camera.

Slow photography with digital. live few and instant results can not be really possible.

Jerry said...

The idea of fast or slow is a completely relative term. I raced motorcycles at most of the road tracks in the southeast years ago. When starting as an amateur, everything seemed a whirlwind of speed and I was very slow. As I became an expert and then a professional, everything on the track (and my heart rate) became slower and slower and my times were faster and faster around the track. I found the zone where time slowed to a crawl even though I was going 200mph. I think any endeavor can be like that. As your proficiency increases, so does your speed, but it seems like you are actually doing things at a slower pace. That's where the joy of getting a lot done and being able to savior the experience while you do it reside.

Anonymous said...

If I understand you correctly, you're referring to "slow editing/post-processing/sharing", rather than slow image capture. You could have taken the image above at 10 frames per second back in October, and it would still meet your definition of "slow photography", right? If so, I've embraced this philosophy whole-heartedly, if only out of necessity. It's pretty rare for me to have an opportunity to shoot and share the same day (having 3 kids 6 and under tends to do that to a person). Yet, when I do sit down to edit and share my photos, I'm better able to pick the best of my best. For "wall hangers", I'll process and print, then leave the print in a conspicuous location. If there's something that starts to bug me about the photo, I make some adjustments and reprint. Wash, rinse and repeat until I'm happy with the result for at least a week. This may very well be a symptom of my inexperience, but I find it helps me to get the print to match my vision of what I want the finished product to be.

- Scott Price

thequietphotographer said...

A I define myself a quiet photographer because I like to think before, during and after taking a photo. Of course being a pure amateur,a passionate amateur makes things easier, not less commitment about quality but no pressure on times.
I shoot both, digital and film. But when I shoot digital I would say I shoot in a film way, no gun machine shooting, no bracketing, minimal chimping, just a look or two for the first couple of frames if in difficult light situation.
And shooting film helps me to follow this way of thinking and photographing. I'm now using more and more my (father's) Rolleiflex and a beautiful Zeiss Super Ikonta: the 120 film with only 12 exposures is a good school even if you later use the benefits of digital photography for most of your pictures.
robert