I am not a traditional portrait photographer. I don’t believe that portraits have to be shot in the studio with Rembrandt lighting and a blue mottled background. I don’t believe that every subject needs to stare at the camera with a big smile. I don’t believe that multiple subjects have to be balanced in triangle formation, and I don’t believe that everyone needs to wear perfectly coordinated outfits. In fact, I believe that there is only one “have to” in making portrait images: The portrait must convey a sense of the subject’s real personality and humanity. That’s all.
I am not a purist. I don’t believe that an image has to be finished straight out of the camera. I don’t believe that film is the only true photographic medium. I don’t believe that a digitally retouched or rendered image is somehow less than a photograph, and I don’t believe that there is any one specific way to make a photographic image. I believe that a photographic image is finished when the photographer says it’s finished, regardless of whether finished is straight from the camera or after hours and hours of digital work. I believe the finished image is more important than the method used to finish it, and I believe that the art of photography is not bound by traditional methods, because it is, in fact, an art and should be treated as such.
I believe that every photographer has a unique perspective, and that unique perspective biases the photographer’s work. I believe that a photographer’s unique perspective is important and should be embraced, because it is that unique perspective and bias that will serve as the foundation for a photographer’s style. I believe that a style is something that must be discovered and nurtured. It is not borrowed or adopted. It can’t be copied or faked. I believe that style is inherent to the photographer, and once discovered and properly nurtured, it will be the one thing that sets us apart.