April 30, 2009

So many people, so little time

I love taking pictures of people. I always have. Ever since my parents got me my first little Brownie camera, my main subject has been people. People I know. People I'd like to know. People I'm not likely to ever know.

If I go out on a photography expedition with my photographer friends I consistently return with pictures of people. If we go to Washington, DC, for the Cherry Blossom Festival my friends return with pictures of historic buildings set against a burst of beautiful blossoms. I return with pictures of people. If we go to to a national park, my friends return with photos of beautiful vistas and gorgeous scenery. I return with pictures of people. If we see a huge accident on the highway, my friends return with photos of twisted metal, skid marks, and fire. I return with pictures of people.

Many people have asked me what it is that draws my viewfinder toward these people. And I don't really have an answer for them. In fact, I don't know that I fully understand it myself. I just know that I love taking pictures of people.

Maybe it's the fact that I am able to capture a moment in time that contains expressiveness that I don't find in scenics or still life photography. Maybe it's because it allows me to interact with a person's public personna without actually having to get to know them and understand them. I hope that's not it, but who knows.

The photos shown here are from my recent portrait session at work. One of the things I love to do is take a few pictures when the folks aren't actually expecting me to press the shutter release. The spontaneous expressions on their faces, the natural and comfortable aura I capture at these times makes me hopeful about the world and its people. Quite often I capture expressions that are the result of my subject interacting with someone outside the field of view of my camera. The interaction is natural and typically fun. I cherish those natural and comfortable expressions.

As I was going through the portraits I took last week, I decided to post a few of them here on the blog. These were very simple. I hung the background on a dry erase whiteboard and the only lighting I used was my Canon flash attached to the top of my camera. I diffused the flash with a Gary Fong light sphere (which is simply a little bowl-shaped Tupperware looking thing that sits on top of the flash). There was a big window to the right of my camera that allowed the bright sunlight in. That provided some good fill modeling and gave depth to the subjects' features.

And yet, even with such a simple setup and less-than-desirable portrait conditions, I love looking at the result.

I love portrait photography.


  1. Richard. I've always been a fan of black and white photography. My favorite picture are of people and old buildings in the city. Maybe because both seem to have a soul. Know what I mean?

    These photos are AWESOME. I mean it.

  2. Thanks, Tim. I love black & white too. My favorite photographer of all time was Ansel Adams. His blacks are so rich and his whites seem to jump off the page. Fabulous stuff.

    And buildings can definitely seem to have a soul. Especially older ones. One of the reasons our family loves Lynchburg is because of the old buildings here in the city. Many of them are abandoned factories that went out of business during a serious economic downturn quite a few decades ago. You can just hear the buildings screaming out to tell their stories.

  3. Wow, Rich, as always I am impressed with your work! BTW, I talked to my friend last night and she was more than willing to let you access her engagement photos.

  4. As usual, I love the photos. It is always fun to see your work.


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