Unless you take portraits, or fashion, or any photos where you want to show somebody (or some body), one can ask and wonder :
If you want to take a picture of a PLACE, you have to make your many usual choices, composition and all, but there’s a question, always :
DO YOU PUT SOMEONE IN IT OR NOT?
Here are a few pictures to play with.
Alex Webb often saturates his pictures with life. You feel like you’re in a middle of people’s energy.
Gruyaert often dances between : a place and one or a few persons.
Paul Graham inverts this balance here : you see people in the restaurant, but the picture is almost empty.
Stephen Shore sometimes takes pictures without people.
This, you see me coming, leads to a set of questions.
What’s your choice, as a photographer? Do you need someone on the picture so “show” a place? Are the humanist in you in need of this “portrait in a place” thing? What happens in the audience’s eye when you have nobody to look at? What does it bring? A freedom? Time? A deeper plunge? Is there a balance to find? Don’t you think it’s easier to “imagine yourself” into the picture, when it’s empty? What do you like, and what would YOU do?
What’s bokeh? I ask Wiki :
It is the aesthetic quality of the blur produced in the out-of-focus parts of an image produced by a lens.
Look at the “blurry magic” behind the girls, pleasing your eyes :
Google it and you’ll find plenty. I’m the first to use it, because it’s easy, it underlines textures, it gives depth, etc. Here are four strips I made from my own pics. It’s an aperture game : Little blur on the wife portrait. A big blur on branches. A way to soften clouds, or to shine the little star :
Like HDR, this effect became rapidly a dogmatic and systematic feature for portraits. “Oh I bought a new cam look at this splendid bokehhh”. There’s even a fake bokeh on smartphone now!
It’s beautiful, but I always wonder about cattleness. I wonder. And I immediately want to do the contrary. Maxing the aperture to keep everything sharp (1) or making everything blurry (2). Just to see. So there!
The tool is easy to catch and put in your toolbox : What is it you do because it’s cool and everybody does it? What if you DON’T, just to see what happens?
Thanks for reading!
Marie-Thérèse Walter was one of Pablo Picasso’s mistress. Today we see her as a Type (young, sweet, sunny, blond, athletic girl), which is incorrect but interesting, if you study Types along the life of the painter.
We all know the Picasso-esque messy faces, sideways-full-faces with eyes all around, with an ear on the forehead et voilà.
Today I chose three ways for MTW : photographies, paintings, and drawings. All of them are very different, though you quickly realize he managed to show something of her on each. Showing the person, her kindness and her curves, her half smile, her strength, her splendid profile and…
…well : see by yourself :
“Marie-Therese, Face and Profile” (1931) by Pablo Picasson is shown in this undated handout photo released to the media on Dec. 5, 2012. The portrait of the artist’s French mistress Marie-Therese Walter is included in the Guggenheim’s survey “Picasso: Black and White” through Jan. 23. Photographer: Beatrice Hatala/Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society, New York/The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum via Bloomberg
Seeds for the mind : what does a painter show? What do we see in Goya “official” royal family portrait? Reality, or what’s inside? Lines, or the painter’s feeling?
What could we do with these questions? In photography, poetry, storytelling.
What is hidden and shows something?
Have a great day!