Relative Importances on Portraits: Opinion Part 2

April 19, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

In the last entry, I noted the obvious must-haves for making a great portrait.

Now I will get into the less-apparent but equally important aspects that I feel go into making a great portrait.

1) Vision and Imagination

2) Make-up and wardrobe

3) Posing and Dialogue

4) Communication and Emotion

1) Vision and imagination. This is where it starts. It begins from an inspiration or something you create in your own mind. The mind is a canvas and our creative thought is the picture. The rest is all mechanics, logistics and buttons.

Go take a look at various artists, any artists really, and you see their Vision and Imagination, realized. It's reality now, but it was just a thought at one time.

How to get vision, and imagination. Well, I believe we all have this in ourselves natively. But there are things in the world which helps to bring it out. I'm kind of all over the place as I am inspired by many sources. Music for example, sometimes the beauty of a sonata or symphony. Sometimes it's the music itself, sometimes it's the lyrics, sometimes it's simply the "vibration" or wavelength I get from the music. This is pretty much the same with movies that inspire me. Or books. Or other people's artwork.

Sometimes, I am inspired by people. Sometimes this is good, sometimes this is bad. What inspires you the most? The second most? I think as artists we are simply creating off of each other, back and forth, on a higher level known as aesthetics. Art can change the world. Think about it.

2) Make-up and wardrobe. When I first started really getting into portrait photography I realized the utter importance of make-up. Make-up can embellish and add to the finished image. It also plays a crucial role in my communication (through the images). And wardrobe as well. I laughingly joked that when I lacked wardrobe I just opted to shoot nude because that took one thing away from the shoot that I had to worry about or coordinate. But both of these aspects of the portrait are crucial. What does a person's clothes say, coupled with their look in the image? It all tells something.

3) Posing and Dialogue. Knowing how to direct another person's body is good when you've got a vision of an image. This is often established by
dialogue and being able to use the correct concise wording to describe what you want such as "open your stance" or "spread your feet" (like this). Instead of "spread your legs". "Put your weight on your right hip and kick it backward, lean forward just a tad, right there." You know. Some days are much easier for me than others. =)

4) Communication and Emotion. In the end, what the hell are you trying to say? What is your art saying? That's the communication. And emotion, where does this fit? Emotion is, at least to me, king over the other things. You know, all those other things may add to the emotion, but if you can capture that fleeting second on film you can have yourself a great photograph.

I suppose one could go about making art without giving much thought to what they are trying to say to people. And there'd be nothing wrong with doing things that way. I like the idea of having more than one message and for certain people to interpret something one way, and another type of person viewing it another way.


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