I have been reading a book by an art critic, who, while conjuring up a thought experiment, contrives to remove all people from all photography. And at the end of a protracted passage where he eradicates everything he professes to be disinterested in in photography, he arrives at images of blank paper on a desk as the only worthwhile consideration. (In fact, the work he refers to ultimately is intriguing and intelligent, and has had a significant impact on the way I think about photography).
I have not mentioned the writer’s name, nor the photographer he highlights as worthy because, while they both matter in certain aspects of my life, what is critical here is that people photography, and in particular portrait photography, is my favourite kind. If I were to do the same thought exercise as the aforementioned critic, I’d get rid of landscapes and still life, and maybe even journalistic images with people running this way or that – and only ever take portraits; the sort where one person and I get together and spend a bit of time with my camera, and not much else. No props, no lights – just the ambient light, perhaps a stool, and the ‘field’ – the space between the subject and me. It will come as no surprise that I very much enjoyed photographing the young man below last week. I hope he also enjoyed the experience and I’m looking forward to more portrait shoots soon!