Sunday, March 8, 2009

A Facebook Conversation About Portraits

Facebook is a wonderful forum to discuss things. You can walk away when it starts getting cloudy. You don't have to write OR READ a lot of words.
Here's one about portraits (occasionally modified for added clarification only):

It starts with my daily Profile Update - the one that starts out for you by saying, "Fred is...."

Fred is wondering, after a 13 year hiatus, why in the heck he suddenly wants to do a portrait.

(Friend): portrait of whom?

(Fred): Someone from long ago.

(Another friend): Old habits are hard to break, eh?

(Fred): It has nothing to do with old habits being hard to break. I think 13 years is sufficient time to conclude that this is not "an old habit," and even if it were an old habit, 13 years should be sufficient time to conclude it to be broken.

(Friend One): portraits are really about yourself, but you knew that right?

(Fred): There is a difference between a portrait and a self-portrait. The talent of a professional (commercial) portraitist is to tell a story about the subject and to stay the hell out of the picture. Of course, this is impossible, but should be held to a minimum. And, of course, I am not referring to those people who come to an artist, whether camera, brush, chisel, etc., to obtain their art and then requesting that the artist use them as the subject.

(Fred) And this question should be clarified long before the portrait session begins.
I think for the portraitist to automatically assume any portrait they do is basically a self-portrait is vain and rude.

(End of Facebook conversation)

Here's a conversation I had in the past with a potential customer:

(Customer, which I will refer to as client because the word is shorter): I'd like to book a portrait session with you.
(Fred): Who will the pictures (I was a photographer at the time.) be primarily for?
(Client): Primarily I want them for myself, for posterity, and perhaps a few for friends and family as gifts.
(Fred): Do you want this to be a documentary image or are you looking more for the art?
(Client): The art. I want you to do your thing.
(Fred): Do you want to be in the final image?
(Client): Huh? Oh, un, yeah. I guess, uh, yeah. That would be nice.
(Fred): Do you want to be recognized in the image? In other words, do you want your face to show, stuff like that?
(Client): Well, I thought so, but now I don't know. I guess I was just thinking like that out of habit.
(Fred): I'm not too keen on habitual thoughts.
(Client, laughing): I should have known. I guess that's why I came to you.
(Fred): So you're looking for art more than likeness?
(Client): Yes! That's exactly what I mean.

Here's another:
(Client): I come to git my kid's pitcher tooken.
(Fred): Okay.

Here's another:
(Client): I'd like to make an appointment for my three-year-old daughter.
(Fred): What kind of portrait are you looking for?
(Client): I want a nice remember what she looks like at this know, I want one every year around her birthday. I don't need anything artsy, but I want something good. You know, not just what she looks like, but something that shows her personality...who she really is.
(Fred): I understand.

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