New Years Day
Elsie Hart, 89-year-old librarian, b. 1920 Topeka, Kansas, 1/1/09
Darren Hart, son of Elsie Hart, 1/1/09
Jon & Sarah McBride, future parents, 1/1/09
I’ve never used medium format before, at least not for anything serious. I realize that by placing ourselves behind a black chunk of technology, a new dichotomy begins. It requires us to become removed from the subject in some capacity, whether that is the comfort and ease of the subject or that of the photographer, who has almost a level of social protection that is provided to them by the 35mm format. The better the photographer, the less this reality affects the nature of our photographs.
If the eyes are truly the windows to the soul, then by hiding ours during photographing, it is possible that the relationship between the subject and photographer changes in ways we may not commonly suspect.
In simply changing the orientation of one’s camera, it reveals an opportunity to connect constantly with your subjects. There is one thing I am sure of: the best photographers can move beyond that small handicap inherent in 35mm photography to observe, connect, and remain relevant when photographing portraits. Technique, style, composition all become secondary to content and in portraiture, that content is revealed in different moments and forms. All we must do is press a button at the right moment.
For a few hours on New Years Day, I was not a photographer. I was a student learning something about someone else’s life, with a camera on my hip.