Connection. Collaboration. Creation. Realization. Sharing. The five steps of creating portraits.

Connection is the first step. Out in the real world you find people who look interesting to you. But that's not enough. You then have to engage with them and convince them to be a part of your project. Which then because "our" project. Connection can be tough because it can cause you to need to step out of your comfort zone, out of your neighborhood and out of your demographic. You have to approach the person for whom you feel the connection. There is a very big (and ego deflating) possibility that they will turn you down. Then you have to move on to the next person with whom you feel a connection. It's a process.

Once you've made a connection you have to bring them into the realm of your ideas. Your vision. In making them an ally you may need to compromise. You give. They give. They try your idea and you try theirs. By working and sharing over time you can create an understanding and unspoken agreement that makes the process of creation flow.

The creation is the process of making the ideas real and tangible. The creation of a portrait is about lighting matching mood which matches pose which matches props and costumes. It's the process of working together until the expression is just as you imagined it would be when you started the collaboration. The light is important. The emotions are important. The camera is less important.
You have to capture the essence of your ideas and visions during this phase because you really can't fix much after the fact. Unless you decide to become an illustrator.

The realization is everything above with the added ingredient of editing. And by editing we mean choosing just the right image from everything you've created together. First you find the image that most closely matches the best outcome of your initial concept and work and then you distill it down by working with the file until it fits happily into or onto the medium you want to use to share the image with your audience. It can be different if the images is destined for a print than if it is destined to be viewed on a small screen. But the medium must be conducive to sharing. Both your connection and your realization will be examined via whatever avenue you choose. A big print demands quality. A small image demands impact. There is a sliding scale of subtlety and nuance.

Finally you get to share. What you are asking your audience to do is to step into your shoes and see a person as you see them. Or as you and the subject both saw the subject in collaboration.

What do you hope to get when you share? Insight into how different everyone's ideas of portraiture are. How different we are when it comes to selecting our collaborative partners. How different our engagements. And how much alike we are when confronted by one or another idea of what is beauty.

I think the person in the image is very beautiful. I want to share my feeling that there is beauty everywhere for us to find. Happily, what is beautiful is subjective. Sadly, what is beauty is subjective.

The Lisbon Portfolio, The story of photographer, Henry White, is now available as a 472 page, 5.5 inch by 8.5 inch printed book from CreateSpace. To get a copy right now click here.  In about a week the book will be in stock on Amazon.com in addition to CreateSpace. If you'd prefer the Kindle version, click here.

I was first alerted to the arrival of the UPS truck by Studio Dog. She leapt from the couch where she had been getting the space behind her ears scratched and raced to the front door either barking out an alarm or, maybe expressing unfettered joy perhaps because she knew what the man in the brown uniform might be delivering.

I brought the box into the kitchen (all important boxes seem to get opened in the kitchen) and sliced it open. Inside were the three proof copies I'd ordered of the novel, The Lisbon Portfolio. Belinda insisted on proof copies as she wanted to make sure that the cover printed exactly as she designed it. When she got home from her real job as a professional print graphic designer she gave the book a thorough exam and declared it fit for consumption. 

Frankly I am shocked at how elated I am to see the book in actual print form and to hold it in my hands and turn the pages. I guess it's because I grew up reading real, paper books with the fervor of a true addict. Something about having a print version makes it so real for me. You've got to consider that I've worked on the story for so long and in an electronic format one's reality is comprised of one visible, tangible page at a time. With the printed copy I could feel the weight and promise of all the pages in my hands.

I abandoned everything else I had scheduled last night and crawled into my favorite chair to see how the book reads. As a book, book. I was intrigued to find that the story seemed so new to me, so exciting. I stayed up late and read my favorite parts. The part with the weaponized Leica. The chapter with the bloody restroom. The mysterious woman in the glowing shaft of light. Every passage, translated onto paper seemed almost new to me. I loved the experience.

We are producing the book at CreateSpace. It's Amazon's print on demand company. You will be able to source the book from CreateSpace at the first link above, right now. In about 4 days the book should (almost) magically appear on the regular Amazon.com site, right along with the list of other books I've written. When that launch happens I will announce a link there as well. Finally, CreateSpace distributes books to most major distributors so there's a good chance that you can order a copy through your own favorite bookseller if you'd like. Fulfillment should be pretty quick.

After reviewing the book I ordered a case of 12 copies to give out to reviewers and my favorite bloggers. I am thrilled with the way the electronic copies of the book are selling and I'm hoping that our readers really come to like the character, Henry White. I'm already hard at work on the sequel.

One thing checked off the bucket list of life. A novel. Now I need to start training for Everest...

Here's the link for the Kindle version: The Lisbon Portfolio