You Have to Write A Paper abt Portrait Photography: My Advice
So you have to write a paper on portrait photography. Here is my advice. Think of me as a quaerolous aunt who will steer you in the right direction but who won't do the work for you.
**If you have to write yr paper on HOW to take a good portrait, go to my cybergodparents: www.photo.net and www.philip.greenspun.com You will find lots and lots of practical information, all solid, at these sites. In fact, you will find everything you need to know.
**Look at lots and lots of images. Don't be afraid to develop yr own ideas.
** Basically, pick a jolly person you like and point yr camera at her/him. I started w/ little kids because they stayed relaxed in front of the camera.
**Pick a photographer whose work you like and try to imitate her/his style. It is harder than you wd think and is a good lesson. Then immerse yrself in the work of another photographer. Eventually, w/out realizing it, you will have yr own style.
**Read my essay,"Here We Are, Here We Are" carefully. It includes every idea I ever had abt portrait photography. Use it as background information. Use it as a touchstone, something to agree with and to disagree with. Look at the portraits I have made.
**Plan to spend about four hours looking around on the web at portraits.
**Spend abt an hour cruising through the history of photography. It will give you an idea of the history and will give you some background. Consider browsing part of your work.
**Follow the links for the photographers who have made wonderful portraits:Berenice Abbott, Diane Arbus, Bill Brandt, Julia Margaret Cameron, Henri Cartier Bresson, Imogen Cunningham, Michael Disfarmer, Mary Ellen Mark, Lisette Model, Nadar, August Sander, Jim Marshall. Plan to spend a couple of hours finding and looking. And don't be afraid to look up any other photographer who sounds interesting to you.
**Spend a lot of time looking at the images. The key to whatever you think about portrait photography will come from looking carefully at the images. Read any text you can find by the photographers. I found a great text by Nadar and several essays by Richard Avedon. I like to read the biographical information about the photographers that I come across.
**Remember that serendipity and luck are key words when using the web. Go everywhere and look at everything.
**A question to ask yourself: how does the personality of the sitter matter?
**A question to ask yourself: how does the personality of the photographer affect the portrait?
**A question to ask yourself: how can a shy person be a good portrait photographer?
**A question to ask yourself: what can you tell abt a person from their portrait?
**A question to ask yourself: what is so special about the images of Disfarmer?
**A question to ask yourself: how does what the person is wearing matter? How important is the ankle bracelet? Hint: Diane Arbus, a giant of portraiture, spent eleven years as a stylist for an advertising photographer. A stylist decides what the person in the advt will wear.
**A question to ask yourself: how does where the person is photographed matter? Maybe compare Annie Lebowitz's work and Arnold Newman's work.
**A question to ask yourself: How are portraits of two, three people, a group different from portrait of one person?
**A question to ask yourself: What about a portrait of just a person's head/face? Their whole body? Just their hands? Them from the back??
**A question to ask yourself: What do you think of portraits of the same people over time? Hint:see Nick Nixon's portraits of his wife and here sisters.
**A question to ask yourself: Which photographers seem influenced by August Sander?
**A question to ask yourself: How was Diane Arbus influenced or not influenced by Lisette Model, her teacher?
**A question to ask yourself: What photographer wd you like to have photograph you and why.