A Ballerina - An EssenceFriday, July 07, 2017
|Lauren Stewart - July 6 2017|
My 15-year-old granddaughter reluctantly brought along the ballet outfit she wore to the Arts Umbrella Dance Company’s finale here in Vancouver a few weeks back for her portrait. Her face showed no passion. She just wanted to get it over with. She came into my studio with her hair down. I told her that ballerinas always dance with the hair up. She countered that she had no ballet pins for her hair. I showed her some bobby pins. She reluctantly did a pretty good job and told me,”It will be fine as long as you don’t take pictures of the back of my head.”
She posed and I snapped. She, like her older sister Rebecca, has gone through this ordeal so many times that she knows how to pose her hands and reacts instantly and accurately to my hand commands - to tilt a bit to the left or to the right or to put her nose a tad up or down. I told her to go serious. I told her to hint at a smile. I told her to look seriously scary as if I were a boy in school she does not like.
At the end I shot two Fuji Instant b+w film shots. I deemed them perfect and told her so. I scanned them and I became even more excited. They are here.
I asked Lauren, “Do you think you dance well?” She answered, “Yes.” I then told her that other people’s opinions were not important as long as she knew inside that she was a good dancer and that she had passion for it.
This was my attempt to explain that every time I take a very good photograph that I think is a very good photograph and others simply nod when I show them, that one must ignore it all. One knows in spite of the silence or criticism from others.
I may have lost her when I attempted to explain to her my love for that ancient Greek philosopher Plato. In my youth I found him confusing. In my old age Plato is constantly in my thoughts. I am always trying to see the essence of a thing. I want to go above the mediocre copy that we as humans (in that Platonic cave) see blurred, indistinct and incomplete. I told Lauren that when I take a photograph I do whatever possible to remove what is not necessary to make what is left the essence (as close as we humans can approach that impossibility).
I told her of the pretty young girl I saw back in 1967 in San Francisco at a Jefferson Airplane concert I had attended while living with my friend Robert in the Haight-Ashbury district of that Ramparts time. She was sitting on the floor at a corner staring at a little glass of what to me must have been Crème de Menthe. I believed that she may have been high on acid and that she was staring at the essence of the colour green.
|Bobby Fischer - Photograph - Philippe Halsman|
I finished my little story by telling her that my photographs of her were of the essence of what a dancer is. It is the essence of a person that I pursue in my portraiture. I can never achieve the perfection that Philippe Halsman executed in his portrait of Bobby Fischer.
I can try.