I recently added new portraits of myself to the Bio pages of my Blog and main website. Both portraits were made by my friend Cliff Lawson and were not made during an “official” portrait session. They were shot while we were testing lighting (website portrait) or when Cliff was showing me his new Nikon AF-S Nikkor 105mm f/1.4E ED lens (blog portrait, also show below.) Tech details for both photographs are at the bottom of this post.
I think it’s a good idea for photographers to have their own portraits made from time to time for a couple of reasons:
- First, if you photograph people it’s a good idea to put yourself into a client’s position and have to pose while somebody makes your portrait. Why? Ansel Adams once said there are “always two people in every picture: the photographer and the viewer.” My friend Rick Sammon has another way of looking at this same concept and says “the camera points both ways,” so that a portrait is just as much a picture of the subject as it is the photographer making the image.
- Second, I’ve noticed that some photographers don’t seem to update their portraits very often. It could be the ‘old shoemaker with holes in their shoes’ cliché or maybe something else. Recently I’ve seen more than a few photographers who have been using the same picture of themselves for 10, 15 or even 20 years! This is a bad idea on so many levels, because I strongly believe that being a portrait subject creates an empathy that will carry over and help improve your portraits of others. (That’s the #1 reason above.
Maybe there’s more to using old photographs of one selves, I hope, than vanity. Few of us look the same as we did 10,15 or 20 years ago. It’s the nature of the aging process and we can embrace reality or hide behind old pictures. When you meet someone who’s seen that old picture for so many years, they’re surprised because as Ricky Nelson once sang “I didn’t look the same…” Because of the kindness of photographers like Cliff Lawson and Barry Staver my on-line portraits have been constantly updated and when I meet people for the first time they say, “you look just like yourself.” And brother, that’s all I ever wanted to do.
The website photograph was made using a Nikon D3 with Nikon AF-S Nikkor 105mm f/1.4E ED lens using window light from the Starbucks where Cliff Lawson and I go to have coffee. Exposure was 1/1000 sec at f/2 and ISO 500. The Blog portrait was made using four different Paul C Buff Einsteins and Alien Bees monolights, two with large lightbanks mounted and one on the background and the other as a hair light. Camera was a Nikon D3 with Nikkor 70-200 mm f/2.8 (at 160mm) with an exposure of 1/200 sec at f/16 and ISO 200
There’s more on working in the studio, no matter where it might be, in my book, “Studio Lighting Anywhere.” Please pick up a copy for yourself or a friend. It’s is available from your favorite book or camera stores as well as including Amazon.com.