Why I love portraiture


Where do you find your inspiration? When it comes to art and the act of “creating” art, I believe there are two kinds of artists – the artists who truly find their own inspiration and voice from within and those who copy or emulate the styles and techniques of those who came before us. Which is right? To me, they are both absolutely allowable sources of inspiration.

Pablo Picasso once said, “Good artists copy, great artists steal”. It’s practically impossible to not be influenced by outside forces when you figure so much of what we create is formed by conscious and subconscious thought. Ok, I’m getting too deep. Just suffice it to say that I do my best to find my inspiration from sources other than other photographers. I look to movies, art galleries, and music for creative inspiration. I, like many other artists, want to have my own style, and that can take years if not decades to nourish. But, there are three photographers who make it so damn hard for me to NOT want to emulate their styles. I cannot not walk by their work and not want to at least try some of the things they’ve done. So, what I’ve tried to do instead is focus on little bits and pieces of their personas, their relationships with their clients, and their creativity to shape and hone my own style of photography.

It’s no surprise that these three photographers, Annie LeibovitzHerb Ritts, and Howard Schatz are photographers who have made their mark in the world photographing people. I started out as a portrait photographer and I have discovered over the many years that I have been a photographer that taking pictures of people inspires me and instills in me the most passion. By nature, I have an introverted personality. Not when you put a camera between me and another person, though.

Check out the three pictures above. From left to right, Patrick Stewart and Sir Ian Mckellen by Annie Leibovitz… Stephanie Seymour, Cindy Crawford, Christy Turlington, Tatjana Patitz and Naomi Campbell by Herb Ritts… and an image from Howard Schatz “WaterDance” book.

Annie Leibovitz – I love the simplicity of her style (often only one light combined with ambient light) and her renaissance-esque style. Herb Ritts was a master at turning the human form into fine art. And Howard Schatz is just ridiculously creative. The picture above is taken underwater photography studio which he created himself. Schatz is actually an ophthalmologist-turned-photographer and didn’t become a professional photographer until he arrived into his 50’s. Needless to say, he also inspires me because I also left another career for which I spent a good chunk of my life preparing for a career in photography.

Photographing people inspires me. I want to capture my subject’s soul in the most fleeting of moments for eternity. Ok, that was deep, too. Maybe I had too much espresso this morning? Anyway, I can’t get enough of it and if I could I would photograph ever single person I meet. I want everyone to have their own portrait for eternity. Better get crackin’…