columbia county fair - the portraits

Henri Cartier-Bresson once said, ""The most difficult thing for me is a portrait. You have to try and put your camera between the skin of a person and his shirt."  And so it is a tricky matter - for a successful portrait for me is all about trust, openness and a reverent connection.

Girl Spinning Wool | 2014 Columbia County Fair

it's an indescribable give and take of exchange and when i say i'm moved, i'm not exaggerating - i'm shaken to the core in a good way, in a grateful way; a heart swollen with tears that find their way to the surface. as i'm sensitive, i feel what's given and each experience changes me. so at the fair, what i looked for more than anything else were portraits of people that interested me. here's a sampling of those i found compelling.

twelve portraits - september

as i look through the portraits i've shared each month to date, i am starting to see where i dig deep, and where i don't. where i take my time to really look and connect, and where i waver or shut myself off because i feel afraid of being vulnerable for the simple truth i'm aware of is this:  portraits require the photographer to be more vulnerable than the person being photographed.

jill previti, owner/artist of true north gallery  | kennybunkport, 2014

while there's still a long road ahead, i'm thankful that many of the internal blocks and barriers that have hindered my efforts in the past are melting in seizing a moment. with that, i give you this month's portrait which is definitely not a theme of 'sunflare' (this month's theme).

so i'll look forward to seeing others photographs this month as it's an element i personally favor in commissioned work starting with Linsey Stuckey.

the fair

i had the opportunity to photograph at a county fair in upstate new york a few weeks ago and the experience is one that remains in my heart. the warmth, the openness, the trust, the gentle reciprocation. photography is not a one way street - particularly with portraits.

Boy with Spiderman Inflatable | 2014 Columbia County Fair

a portrait takes a certain kind of exchange - sometimes it's a lingering exchange, at other times like the one above, it occurs in a flash. i liked the connection here and the clean simple background of the tent fabric along with the little ruffle bits off to the right. here are three others i felt were successful.


of late, life's felt like one big punch in the face - another in the gut - then a whallop over the head for good measure. what most people might experience over a longer stretch of time has landed all at once: a reduced income, a home situation nearing the finality of clarification, and a car totaled by a driver who was on their phone and of course, it was the five year old car with less than 20,000 miles on it, not the car that's in the shop again with 90,000 miles on it. all this in the middle of summer - the time of year i long for. a time when i'm usually out and about -  not inside hiding my eyes and crying finally opening them for a few days of blessed ocean peace only to crash into the next wave.

morgan | 2014

morgan | 2014

about a month ago, the day of the freakish tornado, one of the larger branches on a tree next to our house sort of cascaded off and remained nestled/stuck inside the other wild branches. this was a tree that was full and bushy and filled with little birds. it offered a sense of privacy and enclosure and felt enchanted - like a little part of the woods in our back yard. that was until the branch was stuck and the city came out to cut the branches out. 

what i was not prepared for, was the hack job that ensued  - one that left a beauty of a tree looking ravaged and scarred and dangerously lopsided. so when it rained heavily a few days ago and the leaves got wet, the tree had not choice but to let go of the other half of it's branches ....which also took out the entire fence line on our yard. no more privacy or shelter or woods in back yard. the hold left behind in the tree now only means more than likely the city will now cut it down.

at first i laughed. actually had a rather good laugh - and then that familiar feeling of despair descended; particularly when i looked at the tree realizing i felt how it looked - torn apart, opened up, severed. it hasn't helped that all the little birds that used to live inside the tree have been gathering on the tilted fence looking up - like wtf happened here? where's our little place to play. more than anything else, i feel really exposed; an emotion that can quickly descend to shame if permitted access.

this time around though, instead of hiding, i'm seeing there's a different route one can take which is the point:

life isn't so much what happens to me, to you or to any of us. it's what we do with it.

right now, at this moment, i'm considering options and alternatives - a different head space that feels a little more peaceful. while i believe that tears are there for a reason (and sometimes i need to cry them all out), while i may not always like the lemons life throws my way, i do have a choice with what to do with them. and today, i can add a little sugar to sweeten and a little water to lighten.

twelve portraits - may

i wasn't sure which photograph to choose for the month as i've been pushing myself further than i thought possible with this project and this month i actually had a variety to choose from. seeing a face that interests me is getting harder to just walk by. sometimes i ask first, sometimes i don't but in both, i try to spend a little time with the person after if it's possible.

so - this is kenny. at the salem visitor's center. i was there looking at the space for another project, when this interesting man walked by inside. everyone there seemed to know him and with the gloves on his hands, i thought perhaps he worked there. when i saw the shirt he had on, i knew i wanted to photograph him & was thankful to see him standing outside on our way out. i asked if i might take his portrait and he thankfully graciously agreed. so for this month, i give you keen in a salemized rolling stones t-shirt.

kenny | salem, ma 2014

kenny | salem, ma 2014

i'm happy to welcome new members to our soiree this month starting with a good friend in new england - Phyllis Meredith.

twelve portraits ~ april

"The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls." ~ Pablo Picasso

george | okc 2014

george | okc 2014

and so it has been. a month which has allowed me to shake out the cobwebs. a month i long for not only for the turn in weather, but for an annual trip with two stops...the second taken with the purpose of an art immersion. a carefully string of days that run together end to end IN art...museums, galleries, studios, discussions, reviews. there are more than a few moments where i see something that fills me inside out. and i leave refreshed and inspired. until i travel. and then, somewhere high in the sky, i'm sucked into an in between kind of vortex. and i arrive home overwhelmed and in ways agitated. i think because i can't bottle up all that i understood. that somewhere between there and here, i lost that sense of playful unknowing.

and that is just sort of how it rolls. the real truth. if there's one thing i'm starting to get, art making is just that - it's about the unknown part of creating.

so with that, i thought it'd be fitting to offer a portrait of a painter in his studio in front of two newer paintings. for this pose, i intentionally photographed it with awareness of leaving out part of the painting on his left for a few reasons - first, i liked his placement between the two women and their collective eye contact with a viewer. i also liked how his stance mirrors the pose of the man in the painting. with the subject matter here, there's a story underneath the layers and i felt photographing it this way honed in on that.

so...next in our tiny but interesting little group is Linda Prows, Memphis, TN Portrait Photographer.


twelve portraits ~ march

i had a dandy of a portrait...perfectly unplanned & totally brilliant. one that told a story of a day and a place and a time of year. the only problem? i didn't take it. and realized the mistake in hindsight. so i spent the next few weeks kicking myself in the ass for a missed opportunity while presumably missing more of them and then i lost my nerve. i kept hoping i'd feel it or find it or DO something but i didn't. which is ok cause i learned a lot from the experience. i was pretty close to bailing but ... as i had this session planned, and as i'd scouted for this area which was perfect for this person in telling their story...i opted to share this. 

karina at the pem

karina at the pem

while this is not a pure use of negative space, it tells the story. and now...onto the next - the ever enchanting ginger haddock in casper wyoming.

twelve portraits ~ february

my portrait this month is one i’ve longed to create since i first saw this dazzling display of dreadlocks & i’ve been patient in waiting for the right time to ask … for a time when i felt strong and courageous – when that spirit inside couldn’t be contained. so today, it was a feather lovingly placed in a beautiful nest of long locks twisted around in loops of half shape hearts that spoke and i answered. and with that, the grace of meeting hillary … a dancer who creates with fire. (no joke – she’s a fire dancer). so for this month, i decided to pair her portrait with hearts strung on a window looking out on snowflakes. sort of a metaphor of dreams…for in another time & place and with another head of hair… i’d have layers like hers to create with.

next….always a beautiful surprise with Ginger Haddock in Casper, WY.