Some years ago in that past century I photographed a prominent BC politician. I asked if I could photograph his son. The son objected that I was going to capture his psyche. I did not insist. His reaction was no different from that of Brazilian Indigenous peoples in the deep Amazon. Do they know that something will be removed from them and placed into the latent image of a photographic negative or in an instant Polaroid?
In the many years that I have taken portraits of people I have always tried not to intrude in who they are. I am satisfied in doing what any good portrait can be. This is a melding or collaboration of what I think the person in front of my camera is all about, with what the person facing me is allowing me to see.
Sometimes there is a wonderful failure as it was when Philippe Halsman photographed Humphrey Bogart and indicated he did not want any of his tough guy persona.
|Humphrey Bogart - Philippe Halsman|
It has been over a year that my Rosemary died on December 9 2020 and I find myself scouring my negative files in looking for pictures I have taken of her in the past.
I get a sad pleasure in removing the negatives from their transparent negative file sheets and placing them in my scanner. There are no darkroom chemical fumes. I am comfortably sitting in front of my CRT monitor and I can look out into the January gloom feeling excited at bringing a negative I never printed to the light and to be seen as a photon-thick image on my blog.
But more important, if the politician’s son and those Amazon aboriginals are right, am I able to capture back some of what was in my Rosemary’s soul?
Is this why I keep on scanning these negatives that I took half a century ago?