Cigars, Gifts, and Maybe a Person or Two

CigarsAndGifts_6020, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

I’m feeling in a portrait-y people-y kind of mood again. I don’t know what it is about me, but, I swear, there are times when I feel like shooting nothing but the quiet woods or the elegant lines of a modern building. And then, *poof* out of a clear blue sky, I suddenly want to start putting people in front of my lens yet again.

I seem to have a love/hate relationship with people in my work. There are times when it seems like I love, love, love doing portraits and then others, ppppft, I could care less. Show me an interesting tree on a spring day and, heck, I’d be happy. I’m so “get out of my shot!” already, it’s not even funny. A friend of mine, Neil, once told me that people in my pictures are “incidentals.” That I sometimes tolerate them but they never seem to play front and center in my vision. That’s probably true-Neil’s right about that.

I grew up in the suburbs. You know how the suburbs are, right? It’s always the little house with the nice picket fence. You can take a stroll in the early evening and peek into everybody’s front window as they are sitting down to eat dinner together as a wonderful family unit. It’s so….Ozzy and Harriet in oh so many ways.

I think this upbringing sculpted me in a lot of ways. I tend to always feel like a bit of an outsider when I shoot people. I never (almost never) want to get up all in your face about it. On the other hand, I love showing context. I like shooting people in settings, almost as if they are on a stage. I’m sort of the queen of the environmental portrait-never showing too much up close and personal but sometimes letting the people do what it is they do.

Sometimes too, I’ll setup a scene and sort of “tolerate” a person coming into it. If they have on matching clothing, a nice dress, a funky hat, or sometimes if they are kids. You know, anything that’s out of the ordinary, if they don’t look sort of dull or too expected, why, I’ll tolerate them being there. It’s almost like they get a “hall pass” but only if they shut up about it and stand in *just* the right spot. Otherwise, it’s off with their heads. (Well, not literally, but you know, they get chopped out and cut around.)

I would guess that most photographers, if they were to look at this scene, if they were to stand where I was standing and see what it is I was seeing, they would not have included so much of the store front. No, they would have cut in closer to the person, so that you could see the actual people in the shot instead. I thought about doing that, honestly I did, but that would have been a different shot. Sometimes, I like to give more context, especially when the environment is all crazy like this. Crazy is as crazy does and sometimes anyway, crazy makes for some interesting shots. The people don’t always have to take center stage in the great play of life and frankly sometimes I like to let things have a little space to provide more of a back story. A little context goes a long way and can make for an interesting shot.

But, you know, maybe that’s just me. I’m sort of like that. I like my open spaces, from time to time, to balance out my “city scenes” where everything is so up close and in your face. How is it for you? When you are shooting people, are you more of a “country” girl or a “city” girl? (In your face or back a ways with some context?) I’d be curious to hear your thoughts on this age old question.

Until next time…


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