People's faces are intriguing, beguiling, challenging. All have their beauty and mystery. Some are classically beautiful. Others express their beauty through the eyes, whilst another group of people may do so when they smile and a seemingly passive face becomes suffused with an inner light. Sometimes beauty emerges from under the vulnerability of shyness as a face is turned away to avoid eye contact yet a sense of mystery surrounds it like an aura.
When I take portraits, I look for this deeper, some might say more subtle beauty.
I have found that many people, especially in cities, feel the need to hide their true nature and 'wear' their face as if it is a protective mask. Others, however, can reveal a great deal about themselves in a fleeting glance. So I always carry a card that explains I am a photographer who, amongst other interests, specialises in classic black and white portraits. Consequently, if I see someone in the street, or across the tube carriage, or sitting beside me in a concert or at a play, or across the room at a party and I am drawn to an indefinable something about the way they look, I give them a card. Almost everyone accepts it. Understandably, many are wary at such an approach from a stranger, and never contact me. However, some email me and ask for more details. A number end up having their portrait taken.
My aim over the next twelve months is to photograph 52 'perfect strangers' - one for each week of a year. Seen together at some future date in a gallery, I hope the portraits will express the fact that beauty is not only in the eye of the beholder, but something we keep as a gift inside all of us. We just need to find the look or the word or the circumstance to give it freedom of expression.
If you are looking at this part of my website and are interested in being a 'perfect stranger', please email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dancing on the Glass Ceiling
GRACE AND POWER
Dancing on the Glass Ceiling
A proposed exhibition of portraits of powerful women
I wonder how many of you, having broken through the so called ‘glass ceiling’, have felt frustrated, even irritated, when you have found yourself written or talked about using terms usually reserved for masculine power, as if only by clothing yourself in masculine traits have you been able to achieve your success?
Even today we stereotype those women who break moulds as a means of placing them somewhere secure in our collective perception, rather than seeing them as individuals with their own unique, essentially female traits. A hundred years ago, the Suffragettes were branded, collectively, as mad, hysterical or criminal as a way of avoiding facing up to the real issues they stood for. Yet their courage and perseverance won through. However, many men instinctively still want to place women who have succeeded into positions of authority and power which they regard as their traditional preserve into a construct that is built of male values.
Which is why I would like to do a series of portraits that reflect the true individual behind the woman who has succeeded, some would say cynically, ‘against the odds’, AND the private person she is when away from her ‘work’. Furthermore, my understanding from talking to one or two of you is that this latter individual not only has to demand to be given space during the week, but can sometimes find it hard to release her sense of joy, relaxation and playfulness. Moreover, from what I have been told, determination and resilience, the staying power of the marathon runner, is often the crucial element that brings success in one field, yet can slowly stifle the private individual within.
The aim, therefore, would be to take TWO distinct portraits: one which expresses the qualities that makes each of you a successful businesswoman and, next to it, another which captures the person away from the day job.
I believe a portrait session is about an emerging understanding between photographer and sitter in an attempt to blend how the sitter sees herself and what the photographer, as he listens to her, wishes to express about her uniqueness.
As with all art, it’s inevitably a slightly artificial construct, but I believe that the photographs, taken sensitively, will reflect something important about each sitter beyond mere appearance/looks that is true to both their business and private personae.
Tattoos, modelling portfolios, a virtual catwalk, elements of the surreal. People find news ways of making a statement and, in doing so explore their own identity further.
Statuary can be found everywhere: in museums, churches, public places such as squares, parks and markets, in private houses and their gardens. From the classical to the baroque, from the Victorian sentimental to the modern, in marble and in bronze, in stone and wood, anything that can be carved or cast will be used. Many have religious overtones or capture religious figures, others were commissioned as portraits by wealthy men seeking immortality, or were supported by patrons who saw in art a form of or redemption.
Just as when we look into living people's aces we recognise the emotions flitting across them instinctively, in statuary the expression, because it has been captured for ever, can have an even more overwhelming power. Sadness in the eyes is there for ever and therefore seems to deepen each time one looks at them. A haughty look will always be associated with that individual when it was nobility the sitter hoped for. Sensuality, especially in marble, becomes amazingly tactile whereas strength in bronze seems magnified many times. And so it goes on.
A statue is closer to a poem about the person being sculpted than a biography but in many ways is all the more compelling for giving us that tantalising glimpse into the person's existence.
BERLIN,GIRONA, BARCELONA, ST PETERSBURG, MOSCOW
First week in December 2016. A revealing trip to Berlin which incorporated a day in Leipzig.
BERLIN. So different from London. Far fewer cars. The bicycle rules. Graffiti everywhere, a legacy from the challenges which defacing the wall instilled in the Berlin young. Hence it often expresses a political slogan or is intensely tribal.
It feels like a city dominated by the young. It is also very multicultural. And, at times, it appears unable to find a balance between complete freedom of expression and some acknowledgement of authority or acceptance of laws such as no smoking in indoor public places.
GIRONA & BARCELONA
Visited in April. GIRONA: medieval, Romanesque, beautiful to stroll through and around, marvellous vistas down from magnicent cathedrals, from bridges across the river, up narrow alleys bordered by high walls, from the ramparts panoramic views across the city. And, in amongst all if this sudden small gardens like oases. A slow pace to life
BARCELONA: couldn't be more different. Bustle. Much more cosmopolitan. Confused at times about its identity. As much expressed through graffiti as it us through wide avenues, the docks, the larger, less private gardens. And dominated by Gaudi.
ST PETERSBURG: rivers, canals, reflections, a city at home with its grandeur, its identity, that copes with its history effortlessly whilst at the same time, just around the corner, as it were, having a bigger underbelly than it would probably like to advertise. It's challenge to the photographer- find a different way to photograph me...