Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Authentic portraits

Portrait of Magda Indigo, out enjoying the landscape in Flanders, Belgium.

Yesterday I was looking through my library of photography books. Being a bit of a collector I've got quite a lot. The book that caught my attention for a relaxing browse on the sofa was Annie Leibovitz's Woman.

It's a magnificent celebration of woman and includes portraits of the famous, of high achievers and of ordinary woman. The thing that all of the images have in common is an honesty and an authenticity. She uses a variety of techniques and styles; black and white, colour, grainy, smooth, candid, posed - it doesn't matter. Each image speaks to the viewer.

She often breaks the photographic rule's of composition, but each image works. You never get the feeling that technical considerations get in the way of making a good image. It's all about the subject and the honesty of the photograhers eye. No wonder she is ranked as one of the world's top portrait photographers.

In her tribute to woman there is not a single sign of airbrushing or digital manipulation to enhance her subject's looks and yet young and old look far more beautiful than any cover model photograph for a fashion magazine or slick high street portrait shot.

The ultimate beauty of photography for me lies in authenticity, showing the real person and letting their image speak to us.

I hope all those photographers out there uploading glossy, staged portraits that are empty of meaning will take a moment to consider what I've written here. Next time you're in a book shop pop in and take a look at Annie Liebovitz's photography.


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