Personal Work – The Potrait Project: Jane

Portraits Jane V King-1

A few weeks ago my friend Jane stopped by for a portrait session; looking to update some of her web presence it was also time to update her profile photos. Jane arrived in full cycling gear and carried her bike up to my second floor apartment (and makeshift studio) and after a quick change we started to make some frames. Some photographers excel at making people comfortable in their view finders, I have to work at it. This is one of my favourite images from our 90 minutes and is Jane’s response to “Jane, tell me a dirty joke!” She claims she doesn’t know any, but her expression suggests she does. Her spontaneous and unguarded response also suggests that in that instant we broke the ice better than any good handshake or cocktail could

When I googled “How do you relax a portrait subject?” more than 3 million results came back and topping the list on three or four of the sites that I looked at were, engage the subject, relax yourself, no touching and show your work. I like to show my work, but I think I will try asking the subject to tell me a dirty joke a few more times before I rule it out.

Phillipe Halsman (1906-1979) was a master portraitist and had a bag of tools to “unmask” his subjects from their characters or public personae. Photography Critic Owen Edwards, in a 2006 article about Halsman for the Smithsonian Magazine described portraiture as “one of the greatest challenges in photography, because the human face is elusive and often mask-like, with practiced expressions for the standard range of emotions.”

While Halsman was an accomplished photographer and photojournalist with more than 100 Life Magazine covers to his credit, he may be best remembered for asking his subjects to Jump. Starting in 1952 and continuing for six years, Halsman closed his portrait sessions by getting his subjects, including Richard Nixon, Marilyn Monroe and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, to jump and in that moment reveal their true selves. It would be difficult to overstate Halsman’s gift of revealing his subjects, and I can only imaging what a difficult ask it was to make with some of the more conservative or self conscious personalities he photographed. Photographers today owe something to Halsman even if they have never heard of him. We owe him for being innovative and inspiring spontaneity in what could be a rather stayed exercise and I think we could all try a little harder to do the same.

Read Owen Edwards article here:

The Smithsonian

Project – Boxcar Marketing

It’s a great pleasure to be able to work with returning clients on new projects over time. While there is something self evident about this statement, it’s also about the evolution of the work produced. As I get ready to shoot for a returning restaurant client in the coming weeks I have been reviewing past work for them and planning ahead for how we will approach similar content in new ways. I’ve been quite lucky in many respects that so much of my work comes to me through referrals and that I have a number of recurrent clients one of whom is Monique Sherritt of Boxcar Marketing, pictured centered above.

When Monique approached me last summer about producing some new photos I didn’t hesitate. Monique is one of my favourite subjects to photograph, she’s elegant, charming and infinitely positive even when the sky seems to be falling around her. While this was the first work I’ve produced for her company, I first photographed Monique late in 2009 for a calendar and again in 2011 with an engagement shoot with her soon to be and again when she and James were married on the Sunshine Coast.

This was a quick shoot at the Boxcar office in a Vancouver Heritage building and we were in and out in about 90 minutes which was no small feat given that the sky really did seem to be falling that morning. With roof repairs going on over head, the office had been closed all week and as we were shooting, dust and debris had to be brushed from hair and clothing and cleared from lenses. We made pretty good use of the space considering so much of the office was covered by plastic and every so often a plume of dust would cascade from above. Unfortunately in light of complications with the roof repair, Boxcar has since moved offices, but I feel like we did a great job at capturing the spirit and humour of the people involved. These are two of my favourite images from that morning.

You can learn more about Monique, James and Crissy here: Boxcar Marketing