Dogma, Style and Doing What Comes Naturally

In the not too distant past I went through a stage where every portrait I shot had to have a part of the face cropped from the frame. While this did produce a couple of interesting pictures it was, like all dogmas, very limiting creatively. So much so that as a style it soon became more of an affectation rather than a route to artistic expression.

It took about two months to overcome my pretentiousness and move back to the more accessible territory of using the lighting to create the picture rather than a stylistic device to impress my peers. I was trying so very hard to be original, but as William Gaddis wrote in The Recognitions “Originality is a device that untalented people use to impress other untalented people to protect themselves from talented people…” so I gave up on the idea of being stylistically avant garde and worked harder on my technical skills so I could create what I wanted rather than what I had to have.

In this picture the young woman was asked to place her finger close to the lens, which was a wide angle. This filled the frame, created action, kept her interested and changed her body posture, which had begun to sag, possibly due to boredom.

The camera is a Bronica SQAi , which has different dynamics to a 35mm neg or digital equivalent, if for no other reason than that composing is done with the image reversed and in the square format.

A flash with soft-box on camera left side was the light source.

As an aside, won’t it be a wonderful day when the cost of sensors comes down far enough to make it possible for those of us without a spare thirty of forty thousand dollars to have a digital medium-format camera, now that’s something worth wishing and waiting for.


Zenzanon-s Bronica 50mm, f5.6, Fuji Velvia 120 roll film, 100asa


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