Look at me: Film Street Photography Portraits

LOOK At Me is a collection of portraits of young men who agreed to be photographed. I asked them to arrive unprepared, to sit three feet in front of a 50mm lens, to think silently about something with an emotional charge for them, and then to beam that out to me entirely through their eyes.


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Each young man’s portrait is intentionally similar, taken in a public place using available light, each face being composed to one side of the frame while the other side breathes within the surrounding environment. In this way, a stylistic conformity brings all of the young men together.


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But in reality, as each face disappears into the next, the young men diverge radically with each broadcasting their own urgency, immediacy, and place within the universe. The young men are chosen for a boyish look and a projection of openness and vulnerability.


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While this is a true collaboration of subject and photographer, it is also a personal journey.


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With each portrait, I absorb their youthfulness and explore aging, identity, lost opportunity, and an obsession with beauty and artlessness. And thus, LOOK At Me reflects my own longing and becomes a diary of longing.


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I only shot guys because they are representative of young men that I wish I had known, that I could have been, and-or that I would have admired when I was a similar age.


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I only photograph in black and white, I find it more expressive than color, deeper and more rich, and has a timeless quality, and particularly in this series it adds an element of mystery about my subjects (e.g., what color are his eyes?)


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Lastly, I shot off-center because I no longer photograph in a portrait orientation and haven't for many years; I had to find a way to effectively take a head-shot style portrait in landscape orientation so I elected to incorporate the out-of-focus background to accent each face


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As why don't I ever photograph vertically, that is in portrait orientation? It's for the simple reason that most photographs these days are (at least at first) seen on a computer monitor.


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Horizontal, that is landscape, photographs just look better on a monitor. At least that is my opinion and I can no longer pre-visualize photographs in portrait orientation — so I simply don't photograph that way any more.


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3 thoughts on “Look at me: Film Street Photography Portraits”

  1. Great portraits, Dave. I fully share your aversion for portrait orientation portraits, it’s good to have a bit of the frame to provide context ot contrast. But I agree, it’s probably a reflex arising from the forced downsizing forced on portrait frames seen on a widescreen. It was totally different with slides we would project in big square silver screens, both orientations getting equal square footage… Anyways, in your case, that landscape view is put to great use! Intense series indeed.

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