02 November, 2013

Environmental Portraits 01

A friend in his kitchen

There's an Environmental Portraits Group on flickr that highlights some great work. I haven't joined the group yet, because I don't have enough work that I think of as environmental — and that I'm ready to put out there. (I need to find some patient subjects.)

For me, an environmental portrait needs to be about the subject and his or her own environment. So, no tight head shots with creamy, out of focus backgrounds, no pretty girls in disused factories, and no shots of Aunt Edna in front of the Eiffel Tower (unless, of course, Mademoiselle Edna lives or works there). There's nothing wrong with any of those kinds of photographs, but they don't seem to me to be "environmental portraits." Wikipedia seems to agree with me. But, I accept that opinions differ about these things.

I was going to talk about how much I like the work of Arnold Newman and the photographers who have worn the Arnold Newman Prize, but the Arnold Newman Archive site seems to be coming up with malware warnings, so I might leave that to another day. (17 Nov 2013: It looks like the Arnold Newman Archive has been fixed -- have a look.) My point was going to be how well Newman often addressed the environments without losing his focus on his subjects.

Using a sports metaphor
gets you off to a false start.
—Yllib Ybnad (b. 1948)

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