POST 021




APRIL 13 2022

This is the first time that I’ve written about portraits on the blog and I’ve decided to give it a theme. The title for posts about portraits will have PORTRAITS in it preceding the content of the post much like my other themed posts in the blog (film in the desert, film in the mountains, various cameras, etc..). The content of this post is the beginning which means my interest in taking portraits when I first started shooting film and before I lost it.

My Roommate Tim - Nikon FM2 with Nikkor 50mm f1.8 on Fuji Superia 400

What I mean is that lately I haven’t really taken or wanted to take many portraits. But when I first started shooting film everyone knew it because the first thing I would ask was if I could take their portrait. I asked pretty much everyone and to my surprise people were less willing to take portraits than I would have imagined.. even when I told them it was on film.. I know. Shocking.

Most of the time my subjects were my sisters, my ex-girlfriend, or my roommates if I could convince them. Occasionally I could get my friends to go out for portraits but I think it was the constant asking and always being around them that wore down the aforementioned subjects.

Nikon FG with Nikkor 50mm f1.8 on Kodak Gold 200

All of those photos were from the same roll of expired Kodak Gold that I shot in May of 2020. Back then taking portraits was the only thing I wanted to do. I enjoyed seeing people through the viewfinder, capturing them on film and then waiting and being surprised at how it turned out. I also loved sharing these photos with the people that I took them of. I didn’t know how to pose people, I had little understanding of lighting, but I just had fun taking the pictures.

I don’t think I have shot a single roll in the past 6 months with more than 3 or 4 portraits on them. Something has changed in my eagerness to shoot portraits. Perhaps my photography interests have changed, maybe a lack of willingness to sit for portraits, comfort in the work and subject matter that I am currently creating or a combination of those has led me away from portraiture. This is something that I would like to explore as I develop this blog and it is the reason that this post is the first of a new theme.

My Sister Piper - Nikon FM2 with Nikkor 50mm f1.8 on Fuji Superia 400

So lets start by talking about the beginning. Like I said my first portraits were simple because I didn’t really know what I was looking for. I just asked the people I knew to stand in front of something cool that wasn’t too distracting, made sure the light meter was good and took a photo. It was simple when I first started.

My Sister Teddy - Nikon FM2 with Nikkor 50mm f1.8 on Fuji Superia 400

I’ll need to unpack why it isn’t simple now, but it isn’t. For some reason I haven’t asked people to go out and take portraits. My last “portrait session” was in March 2021 and I was asked to take these photos rather than the other way around.

Nikon F2 with Nikkor 85mm f1.8 on Kodak Portra 400

I’m not sure if the fact that this was a ‘real’ photo shoot that made taking portraits feel more challenging and daunting to me. Perhaps this is the reason that I have been reluctant to shoot portraits now. Before I would take portraits stress free because they were pictures that I wanted to take, for this shoot my friends wanted results and this pressure may have chipped away at my joy of taking portraits. And what didn’t help was I wasn’t very happy with these results, and I don’t think my friends were either…

I bring this up as another reason or aspect that goes into my desire to take portraits. This pressure to deliver didn’t really exist when I was the one asking to take photos. I liked taking portraits and surprising my friends with how they turned out, but this pressure to create photographs that meet expectations is a very very significant component that for me could have been enough to knock me from enjoying portraiture.

Piper - Nikon FM2 with Nikkor 50mm f1.8 on Fuji Superia 400

I’m not going to deny that this blog is all over the place. I haven’t really thought about my propensity towards portraiture and how it has changed but to my surprise it is quite complex, and I am at a loss trying to share those feelings with you. I’m sorry if you stumbled through this blog without understanding anything that I am trying to say. Because I’m not really sure if I understand what I am trying to say either.

I’ll plan on this though, this blog will serve as a starting point to my writing about portraiture, it will represent the beginning and the complexities that ensnare the topic. I’ll work to unwind this theme overtime and I promise that it will one day make sense for both of us. Next week I’ll even promise to write a post specifically about the pressures of taking portraits since I did a terrible job rambling through it in this post.

As always thank you for reading!