January 10, 2010 – Breakthroughs

My rules for today were as follows: The image had to be created during the day, a portrait, and most important, of someone who didn’t know they were going to be photographed. The last rule was the big one for me. I don’t know what it is, but I’ve always been reluctant to ask people to pose for me in day to day situations. Put me in a professional situation with a model, any model, and I’m totally engaged and fearless. Ask someone on the street to pose for me, and I’ll usually decide to skip it. An example of skin I wish to shed as I work on Project1. Today, unannounced, I asked my upstairs neighbor, Mak, to pose for me and I didn’t die. Brilliant.

Richard Avedons’ series, In the American West 1979-1984, has always made me angry. For years I simply didn’t get it. What was the big deal? A person stands against a wall and he photographs them dead on. Seemingly devoid of expression, his participation seemed practically non-existent. It was almost as if he was stealing from his models. They had done the hard work of living. All he did was take a simple, natural light, black and white photo of them. A passport picture. That said, I’ve always come back to these photos. I hated them, but I couldn’t stop looking at them. Today, out of nowhere, in my head, I saw the photograph pictured above. Natural light. Dead on. Very little direction. Not technical. Mr. Avedon, I finally understand.

Mak and Jimmys’ Studio – Ave. 33 – Los Angeles
ISO 1000, 24-70 @ 48mm, f/4.5 @ 1/125 sec natural light

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