XXXV

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1 December 2011 - 31 March 2012

Dedicated to my most excellent brother-in-law and Til's beloved twin brother, Nicholas Daniel Demisay

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Portraits I

     Of all the branches of photography (or all of art for that matter), portraiture has always struck me as being the most challenging (and difficult to accomplish well) for the maker of the work. 
     Many might denigrate studio portrait photography today as a simple commercial exercise - but not this photographer. I have nothing but respect for those who are able to make a living at "capturing likenesses" of others. Not only does a commercial photographer have to feel good about his or her own work, but he or she must also satisfy the subject of his or her efforts - not always an easy task!

End of the Rainbow; Til along the L'Oise River at Gouvieux, France. 2000  Charles Albert Huckins

     Posed portraits, especially when compared to candid portraits of the same subject, seem to me to be more a measure of the vanity of the subject than anything else. This is perhaps why most posed portraits hold little interest for me and, when they do appeal to me, it generally results in as much an interest in the skill and sensitivity of the portraitist as in his or her subject. 
     All this is probably why I've delayed so long in bringing my own attempts at portraiture to light, so to speak. And it surely is the reason for my giving portraiture such a broad interpretation in my own work. In fact, here the viewer will find very few purposely composed photographs of subjects willingly submitting to having their likeness captured on film (or digital media cards, these days). 
     Serendipity and spontaneity have generally seemed to me to be better composers, especially of portraits, than any preconceived notion of a person that I might conjure. After all, is it not these attributes of photography, especially spontaneity, which give it a particular distinction in portraiture from other visual forms of expression, like drawing or painting?
     Generally then, most of my "portraits" are either candid ones or ones in which the subjects have had little opportunity to "compose" themselves into something they might think they are, rather than how they appear to others.
     Compiling many of these photographs for this exhibit somehow put me in mind of Norman Rockwell again, particularly his genius in portraying man's better nature. Similarly, my own preference has always been to expose the nobler, more attractive, or wholesomely amusing aspects of my subjects. Once again, I find my ego not unpleased with the association with that great American artist, even though I once more have had to make the connection myself.

 

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