An ordinary person's thoughts on the complexities of art & life ...

An ordinary person's thoughts on the complexities of life ... or just ramblings from the mind of a working Mum with far too little time to think!

Monday, February 15, 2010

On photographing people

There was a noted French Photographer, Robert Doisneau (1912-1994), who made masterpieces out of capturing the 'ordinary gestures of ordinary people in ordinary situations'. His work could be playful and almost comical, excruciatingly personal, electrifying, joyful and comforting - sometimes all at the same time. He felt that there was always something happening to someone around him in everyday life that was worth photographing. He said of his work, "I never noticed time passing, I was too taken up with the spectacle afforded by my contemporaries, that gratuitous, never-ending show for which no ticket is needed, and when the occasion arose, I offered them, in passing, the ephemeral solace of an image."

Like Doisneau, I believe the best portraits of people are achieved when they are not aware of the camera, when they are involved in a conversation, an activity, or deep in thought and in surroundings which are completely part of their normal lives, bathed in natural light. Yet so often we persist with the formal portrait photographs, hoping to immortalise ourselves or our children in that one moment of time in a studio, and all too often the resulting portraits are soulless and staged. 
From experience, I have learned that the best time to take portraits are the days when simply looking through the lens of my camera feels like I am doing what I love most and somehow the images from that day are exactly what I want them to be.

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