Saturday, November 7, 2009


I am in love. With Richard Avedon. Or at least with his photography. 

I clicked on the link Slade posted on the class blog, thinking that maybe I could get some quick technical ideas for portraits, but I've spent more than an hour on his site. And I'm not done. His portraits...they're amazing. They're beautiful.  I feel like I'm looking at his images with my heart and not my eyes. 

They make me laugh. They make me cry. They break my heart and stick it back together in odd ways that I love. I could stare at each of them for...for forever. They bring me in immediately, but then I want to stay, and just stare. I love them on the surface. I love them even more the more I look at what's beneath it. They aren't afraid. They don't hold back. They're completely open and stunning and make me hold my breath and then breathe too much. They make me think, "I want to do that. I could be happy with that if it's all I did for every second of every minute of every day for the rest of my life." 

He gets it. He captures exactly what I want to capture. He knows his stuff. He's talented. He's worked hard. But that technical skill meets some kind of incredible passion for what he does, and suddenly his images come alive for me. They breathe. There is something there that is so human about them that it's almost scary. It's not just the person in the photo that wakes up. It's the image as a whole. 

I love those moments when everything you love in the world hits you at once. I look at his portraits and I see theater. I see cracking open and offering your heart to the world, even though you're terrified of doing so. I see vulnerability. I see poetry. I see words that wind around in your head and glide off your tongue. I see that you can create powerful images even if you don't specifically spell them out on paper, glossy or otherwise. I see music. Harmonies in light patterns and shutter speeds. I see people. 

I see individuality. No two of these people look the same to me. Sure, some photographs are similar, but there is also such a difference in them. Look at their eyes, and suddenly they're not only just different people, it's like they're different species. 

I think Richard Avedon was really successful at getting people to open up to him, and that's something I could work on with this assignment. I need to stop saying, "Okay, we're going to do this and this and this to you, so you look ____." I don't need to put make up and clothes on people and tell them how to act. I have to get rid of all that. I need to tell people to wear their skin, and then I need to talk to them. I want to set up my images to some extent, but then I also want them to be candid. I want them to be real. 

I am so exited for this assignment. I love portraits. Duh. But I really do, and I will say that to the point of annoyance for the rest of forever. But there is so much in them. I think they say things other photographs can't. Because no matter how amazing your image of a flower, or a mountain, or even a blackbird is, it won't ever mean anything to that flower, to that mountain, or to that little bird. A plant doesn't look at a photograph. Maybe you feel like a landscape speaks to you. But it's never going to open its mouth and say, "Look. It's a photograph of something like me." 

But a person can. 

And people do. I look and these and there is immediately something I can identify with. I'm connected to that person, even though I don't know who most of them are, and even though I've never met any of them. What is the point of taking a photograph unless it speaks to someone? 

I think that's what I've been struggling with most this term. I've been generally happy with my work. It's technically sound. But I feel like that's where it ends. I want more than that. I want the pure emotion I see in Avedon's photography. I want people to look at my images, and have the same reaction to them that I've had with Avedon's photography. 

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