Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Crush on Portraits

GrassRoots Portraiture Part I...

Our{MUSE}Photography Contest has been underway for three weeks and ends July 31st, 2010. We asked people to photograph their muse, their inspiration and post in a Facebook Gallery. The photograph with the most votes wins a $200 Skye Snyder Photography Gift Card. While artists were submitting images, we escaped to San Francisco for our own stirring of the muses. And in every trip, a visit to the SF MOMA is required. The current exhibit was "75 Years of Looking Forward" and "Calder to Warhol: Introducing the Fisher Collection". The Fisher's are the founders of the GAP Corporation and possess one of the most extensive contemporary art collections in the world. Word has it, they are considering opening a museum in the Presidio, Contemporary Art Museum of the Presidio or CAMP. 

This particular show tugged deeply at my soul strings as the pieces were portraits. The artists and their pieces were selected based on the impact they have had in shaping the conventions of portraiture and our understanding of portraits as art. There couldn't have been a more perfect show for me to witness at this time. 

I have been in the portrait business for two decades. I have never called myself an artist. I have never showed a single photograph. I even checked the "professional services" box on my Facebook page instead of "artist". I tried to change that today but it seems to be an un-doable transition. Can one go from providing a service to being an artist? For years, I have taken nice photographs of people in just the way they have wanted. Perhaps, their friends had one just like it over the fireplace. This is how they expected a portrait to be, so I photographed it. I provided the service. In the last few years, things have been changing. 

Some people call me to perform a service. Others call for an artist. I have learned that the latter are more trusting and true.   You can see it in the photographs. We have a relationship and they have given me permission to trust my eye, my instinct. I like working as an artist. 

As all these stars align, my muses have been stirred into rethinking what a portrait looks like. What does it mean? Why do we do it? 

What do you expect a portrait to be? How should it look?

Each of the following images heard, "You can't use that for a baby picture." All three for the same reason. A reason that is now challenging my ideas of what a portrait should or should not be.

GrassRoots Portraiture Part II to be continued...

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