I’ve never been much of a portrait photographer. When I do photograph people — it’s often by accident — and almost certainly involves my own shadow. Nonetheless, I have tremendous respect for those who are truly good at shooting portraits.
A successful portrait photographer must quickly ascertain their subject, earn their trust, then reveal the person’s true identity in the final photograph. If you think this sounds difficult, then you and I have a lot in common.
Some of the best portraits I’ve seen are those that show the true character of the subject, flaws and all. Direct eye contact is of utmost importance — It reveals more than what words can ever describe.
Highly retouched, airbrushed and liquified portraits do little more than showcase what is possible with digital retouching. The “portrait” is diminished to an idealized representation of what the person might look like if truly non-human.
If you want to view some excellent portraits, be sure to check out the work of my friend Blair Bunting. His striking portraits are awe inspiring.
Though Blair’s portraits and my fascination with landscapes are quite different, there are commonalities with our photography. The underlying qualities of a successful portrait are equally valid for landscape photography.
I too find it important to get to know my subject. My style of photography involves revisiting many of the same locations on a continual basis. It allows me to see how each location changes, and satisfies my own curiosity about the natural world.
If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you’ll see the same locations again and again — Death Valley, Zion National Park, and the Colorado Plateau.
These locations now seem like familiar friends. They remain steadfast, resilient, and familiar — yet at times hostile and unforgiving. It is this character that I wish to capture with my photography.
I strive to produce an accurate portrait of the landscape — one that tells a story, and reveals the many flaws that make it real.