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Wednesday, 09 August 2017


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“I desire you would use all your skill to paint my picture truly like me, and not flatter me at all; but remark all these roughnesses, pimples, warts, and everything as you see me, otherwise I will never pay a farthing for it.”

— attributed to Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658)

[Lovely quote, isn't it? And, as you know, the origin of the phrase "warts and all," which makes it important, too. Still, it's likely Cromwell never said it, but that Horace Walpole made it up a hundred years later. Walpole's insight is interesting, though, which is that Cromwell allowed the inclusion of his warts in his official portrait as a sort of comon-man antidote to the mannerism of idealizing royals in their portraits. So, sort of an Ur-version of a reaction against Photoshop-style enhancements, you might say. --Mike]

I'm reminded of a truism from law school many years ago - "No contract exists unless there was a 'meeting of the minds.'"

It's not surprising that there is so much vituperation arising from wedding photography "contracts." It seems the parties enter the agreements with completely different notions of what is supposed to happen.

I wonder if these problems could be cured, in part, by better contracts at the outset.

I was listening to a podcast recently that featured a wedding photographer as the guest. His site is set up in such a way that you get the gist of his style, so if you don't like it, better move on.

My mentor Ben Lifson shared with me a definition he had received from a curator at the Musee d'Orsay: "A portrait is about the shape of a person's head and the lines of their face." While there are other definitions, I believe that this is a very good one. It isn't talking about what else can be included in the photograph, but it defines where the emphasis should be.

@ bt,
Thats certainly true, I had a cousin who was an architect for the government who ended up doing bathrooms and stairwells because he had early on pointed out efficiencies and safety and security concerns and had proposed excellent solutions.
In his case, he didn't mind, I think I would.

Re Vanity in Portrait sitters, If people are paying to be photographed, it's a safe bet that most would be happiest with a somewhat idealized version of themselves. Most folks are uncomfortable in front of a camera anyway. They worry about looking 'Worse; than their self image. If you have an optimistic, compassionate approach, you will end up with more business.
I'm talking here about 'retail' portraits of non famous people who are paying for the portrait themselves.
A little reassurance really helps," You are going to look great and look like you, but not an over processed or fake version of you".
As soon as you tell them that, they usually relax and look better.
Half your job is done.
But now everyone has heard about the 'wonders' of Photoshop, and some folks will come in with a list of fixes they expect.
Here is how we handle that. We say "You are paying me to make a photograph of you, I goes without saying that I want you to be pleased with the result. We want you and everyone who knows you to think it is a beautiful picture of you. But one of the things I don't do is 'over the top changes, because everyone who knows you will see Processing, before they see you. It will be obvious, I'm sure you don't want that.
It usually works well.

The portraits of Henry the VIII and Kevin Rollins are similar, in that their subjects are similar. Both are/were CEOs, and I think it shows.

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