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Tuesday, 22 September 2009


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Looks like he's chopping away at some bushes to me.

Oh man, what did he shoot that portrait with? The look and the boke are beautiful.

He shoots 8x10. I don't know which lens(es).


He isn't chopping away at anything. He is just standing there and holding a machete over his head for the photographer.

No excellence here.

Funny thing about people photographed with large format, they often have a look of someone "participating" in something. Ready steady go, this is your moment, show us your stuff. I suppose the same is secretly true for objects and places, too, the big showoffs that they are...

I agree with Andrew Webb. It looks like a staged pose of someone holding up a machette for a photographer, while looking into the camera.

I just can't see the point of an unwieldy 8x10 for this sort of subject. It just looks dead.

I wanted the to get Fall River Boys when it first came out but the cost of having it shipped from the states with insurance (which Richard's partner rightly insisted upon) put it just out of my reach. He's a very good photographer. I know I'm stating the obvious here but that shot's not unlike a Monet.

When not carting the 8x10 around he sometimes uses a G10.

Hold still, don't smile.

To those of you who comment on the picture that Mike chose to post...he's encouraging you to go see the greater body of the guy's work..If you look at this portrait in it's proper context, THAT IS, as a part of a series of images..it's a much different thing. And, AFTER experiencing the context these images can take on a power of their own.

..Try it..don't be so literal...make a leap. Photographs don't have to beat you over the head with the "WOW, OMG" factor that so many seem to need these days.

Roland, where does excellence begin and end for you?

Thanks for turning me on to Richard Renaldi. I particularly liked the photos on his site. The essay "Fall River Boys" has a universal timelessness about it that is rare among contemporary photographers. The title of your piece "Random Excellence", seems very apt in this case.

I saw the image and immediately thought of my tilt lens, lovely front and back creamy bokeh!

This image does have the staged look, but isnt that the magic/limit of large format?


I got Fall Rivers Boys a few months ago and absolutely adore that book. I showed it to someone who commented that the portraits looked "like snapshots". I remarked that, since he's using a HUGE camera, that's quite a feat to pull off.

It references an earlier photographic age. If the image were sepia with some vignetting then no one would question the pose. It's still a good picture.

The book of 'Figure and Ground' is excellent. I like the 'Touching Strangers' series too. As a high-concept piece, it's a great idea. And it fits in very well with the slightly unreal staginess that some 8x10 portrait photography can have, as commented above.
Mind you, it doesn't seem to bother Alec Soth that much.

After a few years of doing portraits for fun / practice at a poolside party run each year by a local science fiction group I'm involved with, I decided one year to shoot on film with my 4x5. I gave myself two sheets per subject.

It was very interesting, and quite profitable (artistically, I mean). I had been fretting myself about not directing subjects / models enough (mostly I shoot candid, and too much was carrying over to when I did work where direction was needed). The two shot limit, and the need for the pose to be stable enough for me to get the 4x5 set for it, did indeed get me to direct more. Also I avoided taking two shots of any subject that looked at all like each other. In theory I could have done the same thing just imposing the limit on the use of my DSLR; I didn't try that, so I don't really know if I would have stuck to it. And meanwhile, I have some rather nice LARGE negatives of things :-).

I like this photo, it reminds me of Easter.

How weird is that?

Richard Renaldi seems on his way to success in the art photo world. Large format pseudo "portraits" have become very much in-vogue in recent years, perhaps most popularized by photographers such as Rineke Dijkstra and other Dutch photographers. Dawoud Bey's work work is in the same ilk and has recently risen to international prominence in the wake of several shows and a book.

Personally, I appreciate the inconvenience of the capture style but I don't often find this style of portraiture very interesting or engaging. Perhaps it's because I've seen so damn much of it pass through the art photo world lately.

Richard's other work suggests that he likes the works of Stephen Shore and William Eggleston.

Good luck to you, Richard. You walk in some very successful footprints.

So that is large format? Looks like shot with a digital Canon and the 85/1.2 L. (Which is not a bad thing...)

"Easter": stupid frilly hat and pastel colors? :-)

I went through all the photos on his website. I found his style static and repetitious for my taste.

At the risk of sounding self-important: Michael Johnston, you will NOT succeed in goading me into using the 'K' word again so forget it.

I don't know if this photograph wouldn't be a bit of a stretch anyway. The playing card pose (Jack of Machetes?) says what, Alice in Wonderland? The hat says Day O'. The art of Hyancinth Bokeh gives one the impression of perennially popular paintings, but there's nothing terribly sentimental about it overall. No, it would be a stretch, although tempting to make the effort *yawn*. Nice photo though - it shows off the camera very well. Hehe.

"Easter": stupid frilly hat and pastel colors? :-)


Why does it matter if the photo is posed? Aren't most portraits posed?

I was aware of Renaldi's work, but thanks for the reminder. Some terrific stuff. 'Touching Strangers', which has the potential to feel horribly contrived, is instead rather intriguing.

Makes me want to dust of the 5x4 for my next project.

I rather like the artifice of the large format portraits. Thanks for responding Mike, at first glance it didn't even occur to me to think 'large format'

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