Portrait of a Swimmer

Portrait of a swimmer emerging from clear blue water.

Do you find it interesting how I tend to photograph a lot of swimmers but I don’t know how to swim very well myself? I must confess, I’m not a very good swimmer. In fact, in the swimming department, I’d have to say I rank right near the bottom (and, by bottom here, I do actually mean bottom of the pool! I don’t know if I could stay afloat long enough to make it more than arm’s length from the ladder. Not exaggerating when I say I’m really not a very good swimmer at all.)

I think it’s an interesting thing about portraits. Some people tend to shoot what they know. That’s good. I mean, that’s one way to make great images, right? But, myself and maybe some others out there, why, we tend to shoot not what we know, but instead how we want the world to be. I’ve never been all that hindered with the whole “reality” business. Instead, I tend to focus on the world the way I would like it to be. In my world, in my own little world? Yeah, I totally swim with dolphins. And, sharks, but, you know, mostly dolphins (I believe they are better swimmers and, heck, if I have to dream, I want to dream big. Only the best for me, right?) I swim and I see things underwater, I dream, I fly, heck I’ve traveled to mars already, in my mind. In my mind, I’m lots of places, lots of people, and I do lots of things. I must confess, I have a wild imagination. I think that goes a long way in the arts, although it can be a bit tricky to wrangle it around in real life, I suppose. I can’t let it get the better of me but it can make for some, shall we say, interesting images.

The nature of a portrait, a true portrait, is that we reveal many facets of ourselves to the camera. There is who we are, who we want to be, who the photographer sees, who the photographer doesn’t see, who the photographer wants to see. I’ve always said that, when you shoot a portrait, even if it’s only one person in front of your lens, there are a lot of people there, in that room, working alongside you, slowly coaxing the truth out, whispering in your ear. Our camera is a magic box, it’s always real, it always reveals, but it doesn’t always speak the truth, at least not until we let it. Strange how that works.

Strange and, well, kind of filled with sharks (and dolphins. Mostly dolphins but there are some sharks in there too.)

Until next time…

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