Well, it's back to school tonight... Rod Klukas' Large Format Photography class at Scottsdale Community College. This is my social life, this class. There are a great bunch of photographers who take the class semester after semester. Some have taken it almost twenty times. It's my fifth semester and every time I learn something new. Last semester it was the Color Zone System, which has allowed me to seriously investigate color as an artistic outlet. This is especially important to me since I am (red-green) color blind.
Rod has told us he would like to do some portraiture this semester. Initially I was not thrilled as this is not my forte. But after thinking about it I thought it would be different, and something NEW, just like color was last semester. Then I started thinking about the beautiful 11x14" contact portraits that my friend Roger Palmenberg showed. They are absolutely stunning. I would love to be able to make portraits of my wife and daughter of that quality. My portraiture experience has been limited to snapshots for the most part. Once in a while I would get lucky.
My friend, Joe Pollaro, Paterson, NJ, 1984
Back in the early 1980s, when I was starting out with the 4x5" camera, I experimented a little. On my first trip to Carmel, CA in 1984, I stopped in Berkeley to visit my dear friend Fr. John, who had been moved out west from our parish of St. Mary's in Pompton Lakes, NJ. I had gone out west to visit Pt. Lobos and the home of Edward Weston, whose photography I had been studying. I spent a few wonderful days with John, and on the last day I asked him if I could take his portrait with the 4x5. We went up on the roof of his apartment building. I kept thinking of Weston's portrait "The Head of Galvan, shooting".
The Head of Galvan, Shooting, Edward Weston, 1924
The portrait I came away with blew me away. I felt that I had taken a photograph of this wonderful man's soul. The scan here does not do it justice. I have enlarged it to 11x14" but now prefer it as a 4x5" contact print.
Fr. John, Berkeley, CA, 1984
A few more portraits here and there over the next half dozen years, some successful, some not, and I quietly abandoned portraiture for the work I have done since.
With the advent of digital cameras I began dabbling with portraiture, again mostly snapshots. And again, once in a while I would come away with something that I thought was pretty good. And each time that I am successful, it again comes down to the soul of the person.
Clownfest #33, Seaside Heights, NJ, 1999
Dennis Rowland, Scottsdale, AZ, 2008
I am looking forward to this semester's new photographic challenge for me. I hope to post some more successful portraits here soon.
French Road Sign – Ville de Lens, FR – Gaia Son
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