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Tuesday, 10 August 2021


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I know this photographer was getting a Fuji for some of his work. No matter the camera - these are excellent. Portugal Rural - the images do a good job.

An art museum where I used to work had a photograph by Holly Roberts - https://hollyrobertsstudio.com/, probably from the 80's or early 90's. Her older works have opaque oil paint applied and scraped back to the photo. Sort of an extreme example of hand coloring.

As I recall from an issue of Lenswork a few years ago, Bridgette Carnochan also does nice work in platinum/palladium.

On the subject of colouring old monochrome images, did you ever see Peter Jackson’s reprocessed, colourised footage from WWI? It’s amazing, and it brings it alive - these were real men, not just grainy images walking strangely and speaking silently. An extraordinary achievement. Not exactly ‘hand-coloured’, I’ll grant you, but it springs from the same impetus. It’s a complete documentary: “They shall not grow old”. It got a lot of coverage when it was broadcast here in the UK.

How do you know that's a model? Could be his sister arriving for a family gathering. Just like with my family.

Oh my. As a portraitist I'd really, really love to learn what's your take on what a portrait is or isn't, Mike.

That kid will be the new Maxwell Smart!

The Body Keeps the Score is pretty phenomenal, if you're interested in the subject matter.

And you're going to think I'm crazy, but if you're interested in tapping into the reptilian brain, Wim Hof's breathing technique is pretty amazing. I know, I know... the guy is kind of a nut. But do four "rounds" of the breathing technique and see for yourself.

I read your commentary and thought, with half of an eye roll, that you were being quite persnickety in narrowing the definition of portraiture. But no, the work definitely belongs in a different genre.

For what it’s worth, I don’t think the use of *a model* necessarily disqualifies work from being portraiture. I’ve seen work with models (instead of with friends, families, or normal-person clients) that is definitely portraiture.

Unfortunately this has put me into an ontological tailspin. On what basis am I disqualifying the work? Intent? If I were to define portraiture I would do so in formal terms, and intent wouldn’t enter into it, so that isn’t a satisfying answer. Other candidates for disqualification (the poses or attire of the model, for example) are equally shallow explanations. I’d like to understand how I’m drawing this distinction. The last thing I want is to pull a Potter Stewart cop-out.

I’d maybe satisfy myself by conceding that you cannot make portraiture with a model, that what I’ve seen is a very good facsimile of portraiture instead. But now I’m in the rabbit hole and that doesn’t quite cut it either.

How do *you* define portraiture?

I’m so sorry Mike. The love you each have for one another is boundless. I’m sure Lulu cherishes it as much as you do. I’m looking at my little dog, Gigi, right now. The love of, and from, a dog is priceless. I wish you peace as you go through this.

On the classification front - can we even safely distinguish 'posed' from 'candid' portraiture? Certainly being posed is no bar. And anyone who has been specially posed for a photograph, is at least in that sense its 'model'.

Perhaps it becomes a portrait when some wider interest or value is ascribed to this person over and above what's seen of them in the photo? For example, if commissioned to accompany a feature article about that person. But many fine photographic portraits (as we now see them) were originally commissioned with 'editorial' or 'fashion' usage in mind, so I don't think that intent can be our measure either.

Got it! a 'portrait' is anything taller than it is wide. Does that help? (grin)

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