Thursday, May 22, 2008
OK, don't say cheese!
My father was a great photographer. Scattered among the collections of my sibs are stacks of fabulous black and white portraits (and candid shots) he took of us as children. As cute as the pics are, as I remember it, I didn't like having my picture taken even then. Certainly since the end of my childhood I've resisted, whenever possible, that awkward moment standing in front of a camera, "smiling at a piece of film going by," as my sister Hannah used to describe it. Now of course it's about smiling while being digitized, reduced to pixels. I don't like it.
All that said, I'll admit that I'm completely entranced by photo portraits of other people. One of my favorite rainy day activities is spending time with a book of Edward Curtis portraits. He took the most incredible photos of American Indians right around the turn of the last century. They're so real. You can look right into their souls.
Annie Leibowitz is also one of my heroes. Though she goes way over the top when she's working for Vanity Fair, she's still able to capture something of the person she's photographing. Her portraits of Susan Sontag before and during Susan's bout with cancer are wrenchingly beautiful and real.
Maybe because of my own resistance, I have a terrible time capturing humans on camera. Whenever I happen to get a human portrait that's even mildly interesting, it's always by accident and I'm always surprised, as I was yesterday when I caught this shot of suits at DC Coast. The restaurant is on K Street. These aren't just suits, they're power suits, hunkered down over their power lunches, thinking hard, strategizing. Look at their backs - wow. Says it all. These guys are way too important to turn around or even to notice the odd woman taking their pic. Oh yeah!