Lighting Effects, Forte of Portrait Photographer

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Portrait photography is being judged again as an art form. In one particular case, the artist's portraits are a reaction to the character of portraiture being traditionally confrontational. Characterization became careless and too casual, and this photographer tired of seeing this his whole life of taking pictures.

This is an idea worth considering. There is a misconception that media portraiture is a cool profession, but it does tend to be quite dull. The photographer gives the instruction, then the subjects do different gestures and poses in unexpected settings.

To keep this type of work from being extremely dull, this photographer suggests giving the sitter more freedom to make decisions in the shoot. It took a team effort to create 13 portraits of creative people living in the city of Pittsburgh. The sitter is allowed to make suggestions and even to choose where he or she is to be photographed. This is different from what is commonly practiced in the profession.

He does not think ahead for any one project. A preliminary meeting where the photograph is conceptualized is essential to the collaboration. Aided by the sitter, the artist then looks for a suitable site. Sets are usually constructed, and they resemble confined cell like structures.

In conceptualizing the photograph, a sculptor decided to have his picture taken with his work, and a writer decided to have his picture taken in a bar scenario. In one case involving an actor and director, the possibility of bridges as a site came out, but it came out subordinate compared to other details in the photo.

He creates incredible lighting effects in his photographs and displays that he is definitely skilled in making these. It was not during the developing and printing phases that these effects were made. Using colored gels with the lighting equipment allows him to create attractive color effects. The duration of the exposure would be lengthy. The nocturnal portrait of a person outside a bar required an exposure of some 15 minutes, during which the sitter could literally walk into the camera's range and walk out of it.

He could then get back and, using a wand of light, trace letters in the air which the camera can record. During the exposure people entered and left the bar, leaving little or no trace of their presence on the film. Pictures that were taken in the garden of factory have lighting which you would observe as simple and sensible.

Surprisingly, though he shows a great deal of professionalism in his work, he actually just taught himself how to do photography. Collaboration becomes a challenge for him because he seems to have this desire to dictate what he wants over his work. Of course, the final decisions have to be those of the artist, and this exhibition makes that clear. The photographs on show are reversal prints and have been professionally printed.

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