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Tuesday, 26 April 2022

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I'm a little perplexed and underwhelmed by the portrait.
Kentanji Brown was one year ahead of me at the same Miami high school, and we shared many friends (but were not friends ourselves). She is a truly impressive person and her accomplishments and the accomplishments of my classmates from Palmetto Senior High School always amaze me.
But the portrait doesn't - at least to me - convey really anything about her, her intelligence, her strength, her character, etc. Interested to hear other opinions. Is there a reason for the backdrop? Why a centered, symmetrical static full body length portrait with minimal focus on her facial expression? Why crop so closely to her feet, leaving significantly more space above her which has the effect of emphasizing her lack of height?
This won't sound quite right, but I read the NYTimes article first before realizing that the image was the official portrait, and after realizing it was the official portrait, came away saying to myself that I didn't really care what the photographer went through to get the shot, since the result was so underwhelming. In summary, doesn't seem to me like what was deserved in the moment.

[It's quite a fashionable style of portrait at the moment. I like it, personally. --Mike]

People are people. I worked in Hollywood and knew bisexual black women, lesbian
black women and straight black women. We treated each other as fellow humans. Why do we have to revert to "identity politics?" The way to equality is to treat everyone equally!

I am privileged to know one of the Harvard Law School students she photographed for the NYT article. We are all so very proud of her and of Justice Jackson. The images in the NYT article are just stunning. At this time in history, our country badly needs Justice Jackson (if I may be political for just a moment.)

Great choice for book OTW.
His commencement address at Kenyon College is worth reading,
https://www.themarginalian.org/2013/05/20/bill-watterson-1990-kenyon-speech/

For related thinking, and possibly applicable to the things we photographers do, try Elizabeth Gilbert's "Big Magic"

I agree with Aaron Greenman’s comment. Yes, this is a fashionable style of portraiture. But it screams “fashionable style of portraiture” rather than doing the job a portrait of this nature should do; conveying anything about the subject to millions of future viewers. Instead, it says more about the photographer. Disappointing. But fashionable! (The current form of the future “quaint”.)

I am Canadian, so maybe I should not be putting my $0.02 in, but I agree with Aaron. It diminishes her. If the background had been some obvious link to justice, and the fact that justice stands above (or should stand above) anyone, then the approach would be reasonable. As it is, it looks like someone standing in front of a backdrop, waiting to be photographed.

I was taken back at first by the portrait, thinking it may have been a 'behind the scene' capture. Then a few days later and after I saw it is indeed the official portrait, I looked at it again, and I came back with a different feeling.

Maybe you have to be a woman, or maybe you have to be from a minority that up until the recent past were probably passed over for a particular type of position or job title. I see layers in this portrait. Layers that represent getting to the next level. You will see something different for sure.

Art is open to interpretation. Mine is definitely different from yours. I am female and I heard early in my career the guy gets paid more because he has a family to support. Thankfully today all the single mothers does not have to listen to that crap any longer.

I think there is more meaning in this portrait than a lot of people will see. I see it for myself and I am happy the photographer and the subject are bold, beautiful and courageous enough to think outside the box. They had to be to get where they got!

--

On a different note, my son also graduated from Palmetto High in Miami. And I have a fantastic art history professor to thank for that. She kindly recommended Palmetto to me. It is a small world sometimes. ;)

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