Saturday, May 1, 2010

Portraits



It was a gorgeous day in DC yesterday. Because my last client cancelled, I was able to take a nice walk in the afternoon. For about an hour I sat outside Peregrine Espresso, drinking iced coffee, watching the sky, listening to birds and snips of conversation, and looking at the other people there.

The guys in the above pic are both lost in their own thoughts. At first glance it seemed clear to me that the man on the left was thinking happy thoughts while the guy on the right did not share the same good mood. Their expressions never changed the whole time I was there, which made me eventually wonder whether their facial expressions were connected in any way to what was happening in their hearts. Maybe the guy on the left is so used to smiling that he looks that way even in the foulest of moods. The guy on the right might be happy as a clam, but in the habit of frowning. Who knows?

Even just a year ago, I was almost completely uninterested in digitally capturing human faces. All my photos were of trees, sky, animals, clouds, architecture. I didn't notice people so much, and certainly did not get interested in whether or not their facial expressions conveyed their moods. I wonder what it means that, since Jake died, I've become so much more interested in humanity? I've tried repeatedly to second guess myself about this, but so far I'm completely bewildered by the shift. What do you think?

I decided not to photograph the face of the woman studying the Principles of Evidence (portrait below). She looked so unhappy. If I was in law school, I bet I would be similarly vexed. Or maybe she's just used to looking unhappy, or perhaps needs a new pair of glasses. Who knows? Do you?

16 comments:

Marian Wiseman said...

What wonderful portraits--your words at even more than the pics.
One of my favorite places to hang out is at airport gates. Maybe I'll try pics-avec-words next time.

steven said...

reya - it's the strangest thing but i've never been able to include people in my artwork, i'm not really interested in photographing them because i know what i want to share but can't find it in their images, and trying to explain people - there's just so much there it's hard to pare it down. poets do that and blow me away. i think that facial expressions are as much a protective shield as they are an expression. the man on the right might welcome a chance to tell his story or listen to one. the man on the left might be resentful. he's already apparently happy. i like that the third person has placed her pixel portal between her and her work. steven

willow said...

Your face was in my dreams last night, giving me some very good, straight forward advice.

Reya Mellicker said...

Steven, that's how I used to feel - also I felt hypocritcal taking pics of others when I so detest having my own picture taken.

But given the fact that everyone has a camera these days, on their phones at least, people are not so camera shy.

Willow - details please!!??

Reya Mellicker said...

For most of the time I was there, the law student was reading the book that she eventually stuffed underneath her laptop.

Bee said...

I LOVE watching people and would like nothing better than taking endless pictures of those who intrigue me. . . but rarely feel like I can get away with it. Did these men know you were photographing them? When I was in Paris, I took a picture of a street musician (quite a character, too) and as soon as he heard the click he trotted up and demanded money! Quite right, I guess.

As for why you are more interested in people, now that Jake is gone, it does seem likely that he was meeting some of your emotional needs. On the other hand, maybe you were also in a phase of looking inward?

John Hayes said...

Beautiful portraits--& interesting that the two men kept those expressions while remaining in thought over a period of time. Odd--I never really thought about the fact that you didn't photograph people's faces, but now that I think back, that's certainly true. I wonder what the change means!

Reya Mellicker said...

No one knew I was photographing them. I had the zoom on, then I put the camera on my table, with the timer set, pushed the button and looked the other way.

the guy on the right did not change expression at all! The guy on the left occasionally looked even happier, especially when he fed his dogs treats (they are under the table) or while saying hello to passersby he knew.

The law student looked like she had a stomach ache the whole time.

Mrsupole said...

People are an enigma and one can never know what they are truly thinking, and so it is good when you can take a picture of them without them knowing it. Some people are happy and some are not, and maybe the girl was so worried about if she was going to pass, and was possibly bored to death with the book she was reading.

Actually if you think about the picture of Mona Lisa and why it is so famous, is not because of the actual picture but more because no one can tell what she is thinking and for centuries people have tried to figure it out.

Animals can read what people are thinking better than people can and maybe with Jake he helped to show you what people were thinking and now you are trying to guess.

Many people can hide their emotions and many cannot, but always remember that the eyes are what shows someone's soul and if you can capture a picture with their eyes, then you can have a better chance of seeing into their souls. When you are out there seeing people, try to look into their eyes, and those that are not willing to look you directly into the eyes are usually hiding how they are feeling at that moment. That is one reason it is harder to look someone directly into their eyes and lie to them. Just a thought.

God bless.

lakeviewer said...

Great studies here! How interesting they look!

Nancy said...

I always people watch and wonder what is going on in their minds, as well. People are so interesting to me. What is on the outside isn't necessarily what is on the inside. Interesting that you noted that.

Ronda Laveen said...

I think that when we hang out with animals, especially on walks, our focus is different. We get to see a little bit of the world from their perspective.

I was reading a blog the other day and he posted diffused pictures of his hands and feet saying the he'd read that some people see more of a person's personality in them. The photos were way cool.

lettuce said...

I love watching people - sunny weather is great for hiding behind sun-glasses. But as for guessing whats going on inside.... well, I suppose guessing is all we can do most of the time?

美岑 said...

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Susan said...

I've been fascinated with people as I get older, too. I always preferred to study (and hang out with) animals and nature, but I'm finding people's faces very interesting.
Do you think it's maturity? I could almost say in a way I'm relating to them more (as fellow humans) and less (as potential friends). So I'm seeing them from a different perspective, one that is less needy and judgemental - though I can still be judgemental with the worst of them.

Reya Mellicker said...

I like the idea that it's maturity. Yeah. I'm going to stick with that!