The ProfileWednesday, February 13, 2013
I have never understood why essays on people that appear in magazines or newspapers are called profiles. Even more difficult for me is the concept of the verb to profile.
My first memory of the word is in Spanish and the word perfil is attached to griego meaning Greek. As I learned it had to do with the concept of heroic Greek statues of gods and goddesses, of statesmen (the bust of Pericles comes to mind) and even of philosophers, as Greeks revered them, too.
My grandmother, born in the 19th century and thus a person of the times was mildly (does anti-semitism come in different degrees like hot sauces?) anti-Semitic and if she spotted a person with a particular type of large nose she would have said, “He has the map of Jerusalem on his face.”
A profile was prominent in a story my mother often told me. My mother and grandmother were living in the Bronx in the early 30s. They were riding an elevated train and between them sat a man with a big nose. In Spanish, my mother, who was sitting by the window, asked my grandmother, “Can you see anything?” My grandmother replied in Spanish, “No the man between us has a very big nose.” At that point the man in the middle pushed his nose to one side with his index finger and in perfect Spanish asked, “Can you see now?” My mother and grandmother were so embarrassed that they immediately got up and left the train.
In recent years I have given longish demonstration/lectures on the taking of a profile. A profile is not as simple as you might think. Consider this.
1. Can look straight ahead.
2. Can look upwards.
3. Can look downwards.
4. Can smile.
5. Can laugh.
6. Can be serious.
7. Can close eyes.
8. Show only one eye.
9. Show part of the other.
10 Show both eyes.
11. Depending on how you place your light you can show or hide your subject’s ear.
12. Just face.
13. Head and shoulders.
Seen here is a pleasant profile I took of my granddaughter Lauren this year.