I’ve been thinking for a while, that I’ve not had any chance these past few years to make any portraits.
It was startling for me to read reviews of my book, where the reviewer was surprised to see the inclusion of portraits as well as landscapes because they viewed me as a landscape photographer. This in itself was very interesting to me, because it allowed me to get a glimpse of how others perceive me and what I do.
I always thought I was a travel photographer, because it entails all the destinations that I’ve been to, all the landscapes that I’ve shot whilst there, and also, all the people I’ve encountered and photographed too.
For me, there is little difference between portraiture and landscapes. They both have personalities and they both need to be engaged in, a dialogue of sorts – the interaction between yourself and your subject.
They are also subjects of beauty, and I see many compositional attributes that are appropriate in landscapes, present in portraiture too: I’m often seeking pleasing tones, compatible colours and ‘a moment’. With landscapes, we have to watch for elements changing in the landscape and make images when we see detail changing or becoming visible. With portraits, I have to watch my subjects as they dance between different expressions of the face, their body movement, their change in pose.
And they’re both very exciting to shoot. Landscapes because you’re dealing with the unpredictable elements of a landscapes soul. Portraits are exciting because of the unpredictable elements of a persons spirit.
I deliberately interchanged the words ‘soul’ and ‘spirit’ between landscapes and people, because in a sense, they are the same thing when we choose to make images of them with a camera.
I also get a lot of inspiration from making images of people. It’s all too easy to become single-minded in your approach to photogaphy. We should often seek out new things that interest us, as often, they are a guiding post to where we should go, to who we are seeking to grow into as a creative person (I hate using the word artist, yet, in truth, that is exactly what we are).
So in order for me to ‘feed my soul’, I’m heading off to Portugal in November to catch up with some friends in Oporto. We’re heading back into the highlands, and I’m hoping that it will be a week of making images of the locals there. My first and only visit was in 2007:
There is a story to tell in the little villages of northern Portugal. I felt I touched upon something in these images at the time, but I’ve never been back to explore it. I think that’s part of the job or ‘journey’ of a creative person. To know when something has been left unfinished, to know where there is potential to grow, and to take action and put some new work into being.
I’m now hatching plans for further trips to make portraiture. I’m not exactly sure where just yet, but what I do know, is that I’ve been neglecting my portraiture leanings for some time, and that as a creative person, my inner ‘artist’ needs to be fed.