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

Today’s Archive Image: 2011 Whister GranFondo

So much in the hopper right now ahead of this weekend’s 2012 Scotiabank Vancouver Half-Marathon and just a week out from this year’s BC Bike Race. I have been very excited to put together a team of photographers to shoot the ‘Scotia Half’ this year, regularly regarded as among the most scenic Half Marathons in Canada and I am looking forward to seeing a lot of great images from our team, perhaps as many as 18,000 images, which will see post production and upload next week. Wow, it will be interesting to see the final numbers. Get ready SumgMug!

As last summer was coming to an end I was asked to shoot the 2011 RBC Whistler GranFondo and this is one of the images shot that morning in September from the back of a motorcycle on the Upper Levels Highway above West Vancouver. My buddy Chris and I spent a huge day with the event shooting close to 4000 images between us in the period of about 16 hours. It was an intense day, but what can I say, I love shooting events, and I love shooting cycling. Sunday is going to be epic and I am looking forward to a team photo at the start line at UBC early Sunday morning.

The weekend is almost on us, events are everywhere, cycling, running, farmer’s markets, fairs and parades, these are the stock and trade of staff shooters covering weekend shifts across North America, these are where features are made, faces found and stories are witnessed. I hope you find something to shoot this weekend, your latest portfolio piece is out there.