A good portrait is almost always a collaboration. If you don't play well with others consider landscapes or products.

 The one thing I regret about the demise of the Samsung camera division was the discontinuation of a particular lens. They made an 85mm f1.4 that was one of the finest portrait lenses I ever used. We shot the image above in a tiny trade show booth at the 2013 Photo Expo in NYC. Even though we were surrounded by crowds and the noise in the exhibit hall was crazy loud we were able to achieve moments where my model and I felt as though we were the only ones in the room.

It's about a connection. The connection can be one of shared purpose, a physical or psychological attraction or a shared interest. Some how both sitter and photographer must bridge the gap between each other and enter into the moment with a sense of play....and give and take.

If you don't get some sort of spark or connection that goes in both directions you haven't made a portrait, at best you've made a document...


  1. Glad you've bust out of the "no words to write" funk. You're right, that's what portraiture is all about

  2. Welcome back Kirk. I could not agree more...no connection means no real moment to capture which has a spark with balances the science of photography with the art of photography. Everything in life reflects just such a balance.

  3. That Samsung tradeshow event was one very productive session.

  4. Maybe from a commercial photography standpoint yes, having good personal relation skills makes everything fluid and easier. Other than that I don't think it's actually a indispensable requisite, Alec Soth said he struggled a lot making portraits of people, even more so because of his approach, asking for portraits from strangers and using a large-format camera that took time to setup. That didn't stop him making some of the best and most memorable portraits in photography recent history (at least in my opinion).

  5. Ricardo, We may have to agree to disagree about the merit's of Alec Soth's portraits but in any case they fall outside the confines of commercial photography the boundaries of which I really intended when I was thinking this through. That said I'll take another long look at Soth's work to see where I might be wrong...


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