The Reports Of The Death Of The Formal Portrait Are Greatly ExaggeratedSaturday, December 18, 2010
A friend who has my best interests at heart sent me a message, via email, about the fact that the formal portrait was dead and that someone had lifted a photograph of mine. Captain Beefheart, aka Don Van Vliet died today Friday. It is obvious that those who used my image (probably lifted from my blog here) did not seek my permission. I am certainly not going to go after those who used it as I would have no chance of winning anything, getting any money or achieving any sort of satisfaction,
In fact I already have the satisfaction of knowing that when it came to find an image appropriate to honour a great old man, it was my image that was chosen.
At age 68, just a year younger than Captain Beefheart, I linger in self-doubt that what I do, as a portrait photographer, has any merit in this day and age of the candid snapshot. But I have to mention here, that when some notable person in Vancouver dies or, in a few cases also, someone from abroad, I have been asked to provide an image, and, many times this has been well paid in cash.
What it really means, and it does provide me with a great deal of pleasure, is to know that the formal portrait (what I like to do best) is not quite dead yet even if its use seems to be destined to illustrate obituaries.
A couple of years ago a very rude English student of mine at a photography class asked me in a most deadpan but insulting manner, “Alex, can you show us some magazines that you may have worked for, that are still in existence?” I did not have the heart to tell the rude young man what I was thinking, “In fact I have very few portraits that I can show you that are of people that are still alive.”