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Monday, 31 December 2012


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Thank you! Wonderful picture and story.

There's always a risk in telling some truth about someone, whatever you do. Worse with writing about someone in a journalistic fashion but in doing portraits, I find it's a difficult balance between finding something that appeals to me and flatters the subject enough to make them not hate it.

This is a portrait that got me some nice attention lately. It's of a close friend. She doesn't like it much, her family hates it. I ended up selling a large print to a collector around here. I like the picture quite a bit, but can understand why my friend doesn't like it. I have plenty of other very flattering pictures of her...but this one seems to carry a certain gravitas.

Anyway, always a tough call.

I'm not a big fan of photographs of myself, so I can't complain too much.


What a lovely little story, John. I am a bit shy by nature and always felt quite timid when making photographs of strangers. Still, I am drawn to interesting photographs of people in the public domain. Your story encourages me to approach this subject matter once more. Perhaps it should be my photographic new year resolution.
So, thank you and a happy new year.

Wow, what a wonderful story, really choked me up. And, in a world that's almost choking on the sheer volume of photographs, the story is a testament to the power of photography. Gorgeous, simply a sparkling, soul filled image.

A lovely memorable human story to start the year. Thank you for taking time to share it with us, John.

Have a good 2013.


I once caught a candid shot of a local barkeep which I Photoshopped out a distracting background. I really liked how I thought I caught his "look". I gave him a copy as a gift and he felt destroyed! He hated how "old" it made him look(he's 35).I felt bad he hated it so much....I really liked it :)

A really great post.

Thanks for sharing a beautiful story.

This article captures why I am a people photographer and not a landscape photographer.

My best landscapes may generate a positive comment but seldom a request for a copy. On the other my photography of people, especially of children, never fails to please the parent or grandparent who receives them.

I have been the unofficial photographer of the local swim team, basketball team, and the high school golf team. I take photos of my 5th grade Sunday School class, of children in general, and of wedding participants, etc.

I will probably never have an exhibit of my photography, but regularly finding my photographs "exhibited"at high school graduation parties and in the homes of parents and grandparents is the gratest reward of photography for me.

Jeff Smith

And a great portrait it is. There is a whole life lived out written on that face.

Great story. You never know what acts may form a bond between two people.

A very touching story at the moment of the New Year.

Thanks, John.

- Frank

Lovely story, John, and love your work as always. Thank you! And Happy New Year to everyone!

A beautiful story, thank you for that, and have a happy new year!

Nice story -- the first Hollywood ending in the history of TOP?

For a few years now I too have been in the habit of giving prints to people whose photo I've taken. This month I had a hard time finding an itinerant vendor I'd take a photo of. His effusive joy at receiving the photo when I finally found him made my year photographically.

Wasn't even a particularly good photo, but I doubt he'd had many photos of himself.

I don't know if this is allowed but anyway:

Back in 1969 I was in Vietnam with the Marines as a photographer. Here is one story about my experience over there. It's about one village and a Polaroid camera.


Great story. The irony is more and more people either refuse to allow you to take their picture or, if you do take a candid shot, get extremely angry. The fact that you have a right to take pictures of them or anyone else in a public place is lost in the miasma of some unknown fear that seems to be growing in people's hearts.

Perfect story to round out 2012. Touching and easy to relate to.

Happy new year.

It never hurts to revisIt Camera Lucida by Roland Barthes to refresh just how close to home these experiences can be.

Excellent portrait and story. It, plus the stories it elicited in the comments just show how individual the perception and valuation of an image can be.

John Kennerdell's B&W portraits of Cambodians today, are as significant to me as the historical bas reliefs in Angkor, carved by Khmer stone masons almost a millennium ago.

Happy New Year to all!

Beautiful story. Thanks for sharing.

Happy New Year.

Wonderful story. Thanks for sharing and inspiring.

When first making inkjet prints from Tri-X the unusual reflectance issues with inkjet B&W and glossy paper required several attempts to get an acceptable print. One was of a young waitress at a nearby restaurant and when I next saw her I gave her the good print from the group. My daughter who was with me and who knows about these things told me it was "kind of creepy" for me to have so many prints of her (I never knew), so I gave her the rest of the prints as well. Some months later she told me how much she and her extended family enjoyed the prints I had made..."especially the ones that get all shiny in different spots depending on the light."

I too join the above commenters in stating how much I enjoyed that.

As to the elderly, and especially middle aged women not liking what they see in a photo of themselves, I took a workshop given by the late Monte Zucker. He would reply to any women who told him they didn't like the way they looked in a picture he took of them, "Sweetheart, you're gonna love the way you look in that picture five years from now." I've adopted that.

I also like it because I give out my photos for free and always have, never charging. I'm very fortunate in that I don't need the money I might otherwise make and photography is my hobby. I've been subjected to great criticism on forums for doing so, being told I'm taking money out of others' pockets who rely on it as their living.

Which brings me to my next subject: New Years Resolutions. Usually, my New Years Resolution

And this brings me to my current subject for moaning about - It's either New Year or New Year's with an apostrophe. Otherwise you're writing about more than one year.

Some of the Facebook message I have seen are even worse: "Happy New Years" doesn't make much sense!

About 10 or 11 years ago in a very Orthodox section of Jerusalem I took a photo of an old tailor sewing clothes. He was completely oblivious to the fact that I was there.

About 6 months later when I was back in Israel, I, along with a very Orthodox rabbi friend of mine (I do not look the part of an Orthodox Yid so I took my friend who does) found the tailor's shop and presented the framed photo to him. The rabbi explained everything to him in Hebrew. The tailor looked at the photo for a few seconds, then lobbed it onto a pile of clothes and continued with his work. The tailor never said a word to either of us.

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