Underarm Deodorant & Breath MintsSaturday, May 26, 2012
I teach photography and I attempt to impart to my students my passion for the portrait. I can hear them zip and zip. I can see them fall for models who act like models and do poses that are model-like. The models purse their lips; they swing their hips, this way or that way. They wink.
I tell my students to wear good underarm deodorant. I tell them to brush their teeth and chew gum or suck on breath mints. I tell them to get close with a medium wide angle lens so as to almost be confrontational with their subject.
They mostly reject the advice and further ignore my instructions to bring that light (or lights) really close and get dramatic shadows.
But a memory for the value of shadows which suggests curvature and three dimensions in what really is a world of two dimensions (a photograph is just that) is almost forgotten. Very good cameras, when faced with extremely low light will pop up a flash. The light will evenly light the face into flatness.
A memory for the window lighting of the Flemish painters is now forgotten. It is not forgotten because it is not remembered. It is forgotten because few of my students, regardless of their age have seen paintings, old masters or gone to museums. What they see is on the net.
Here are two photographs of Joanne Dahl whom I photographed sometime in the early 90s. I remember that my lighting was the light coming in through the windows of my studio. It faced the big white wall that was Eaton’s and then Sears. The light would come in and be reflected back by the wall on the opposite side of my studio which was white. For this shot I used a velour drape as a backdrop and snapped with my Nikon FM-2 and a 50 or perhaps a 35mm lens.
I do not find the photographs boring but then I cannot possibly be objective as I am the one who took the pictures.