I tend not to include faces in my images. More often than not this leads to the observation that it would be nice to see the face, or why is everyone seen from behind?
I was reminded of this while spending time with The Art Book, Phaidon press, which contrasts the work of painters and photographers. Of course there are many examples that include faces, but there are also more than a few where the faces are obscured or turned away from the viewer. Eugene Boudin’s The beach at Trouville, Gustave Caillebotte’s Young Man at his Window, and Henri Cartier-Bresson’s Juvisy, France are examples where faces were not necessary to convey what the artists wanted to say. In fact, including the faces would significantly change what the image is all about.
We are hard-wired to look for faces. Take any image and if there’s a face, you’re most likely going to see it first, and it likely will be what the image is about. Obscure the face and your interest shifts elsewhere perhaps where the person seems to be looking. Caravaggio’s Doubting Thomas, for example, we don’t see the faces but we know where everyone is looking and that’s what grabs our attention.
I explore spaces that are mostly empty. Sometimes I’ll include a person or two but seldom any faces and that’s because I don’t want the individual to become the story. Instead, the person becomes part of the landscape, maybe even a design element. I’ll be honest and admit in the beginning I didn’t include faces more for privacy concerns, their’s and my own as I didn’t want to draw attention to myself. Over time however I came to see the value of excluding faces. Not everyone agrees with this and that’s okay. I know what I wanted to say and why I present things the way I do. I used to feel I was doing something wrong. Knowing what I wanted when I took the picture, i.e. shooting with a specific purpose in mind, makes all the difference.
This is a quick note for anyone who has been checking this site and wondering why nothing has changed.
I will be making some design changes to this site. The blog will will play a smaller role but I will try to update the section at least each month. The galleries will be restructured, possibly using The Turning Gate (TTG) plug-in for Lightroom. A projects section will be introduced (possibly replacing the current stories section) and I’ll have two new projects to write about. The one I’m most excited about concerns a major road trip that starts next month.
My most recent work can now be found on 500px at this link
Kenneth photography on 500px
I am also thinking of adding an instructional section initially for new or intermediate photographers. Let me know in the comments section if this is something any of you would be interested in.
The best workshops are the ones where you forget you are in one.
Last week I spent six days taking pictures with my friends. We were in New Orleans La. sharing a wonderfully old house next to the Garden District. Five of us were working on a photo essay that we agreed would be finished by Friday. Two of us were experts on photography and photo essays. They provided valuable insight by sharing stories about past projects as well as their on-going work. They provided guidance in the form of honest and fair critiques, suggestions and examples to illustrate something important. Each day we would spend three hours looking at a selection of our pictures taken the previous day and the process of photography. This was followed by 4-5 hours working on our projects (i.e. taking pictures). We shared dinners together and later either edited the day’s pictures or talked more, but usually both. By Friday we had completed five individual essays about music, work and life in New Orleans; these were given a public showing on Saturday just before William Albert Allard, highly respected long time photographer for the National Geographic magazine, gave a talk about his current book Five decades. Continue reading “The best workshop is….”
When our kids were younger, we camped several times every summer because it was affordable and it was something we enjoyed. My wife grew up camping with her family right up until her mid-teens. As a city boy camping was not something I’d really ever done. I got the hang of it quickly, though, so you can imagine that after 20 years, it was a disappointment for us when we had to suspend our annual summer forays into the provincial parks. Disappointment is actually a gross understatement, in 2007 the doctors found I had cancer and camping was the least of our concerns while we dealt with the crap that goes along that type of diagnosis. Continue reading “Return to the parks”
June 6, 2014
The sub-title to David Duchemin’s recent article in the June/July issue of Photo Life magazine reads “Cultivating a Beginner’s Mind”. The path David describes includes learning to use your gear but know when to stop, read what the masters had to say, but most of all be open and receptive – I believe he is referring to the world around us, to change, and to new ideas. Continue reading “At the end of the easy path…keep going”