Thursday, March 5, 2009

Context and authenticity in the portrait

Still thinking about the portrait and in particular the issue of signification. What message is conveyed and how. And the question of context and the role that plays in the photo portrait. Two of the pictures in my previous post are shot against neutral backgrounds and rely only on the figure to provide the reading. This not for the first time and I immediately think of Richard Avedon's American West pictures shot against a white background. What more would have been conveyed if my subjects had been shot in a more loaded setting?
Came across an interesting piece in a blog written by photographer Chase Jarvis. Here authenticity is discussed and a case made for many photographic portrait's merely presenting a stilted, contrived view of the subject, who is intent on showing their best "self". Pictures less rooted in honesty and more in...fantasy.
Here are some portraits I made in Pingyao in 2007, people I met in the street. Curious about me and me of them. They seem uncontrived and have an innocent freshness.

1 comment:

Carmen Castaño said...

Everyday I feel like stoping people in the street and ask them if I can take a photo. I never do it. But if I was in Spain I would, perhaps because I know the Spanish culture. Do you stop people and ask them?