Candid Portrait Styles

Feb 2, 2005
Sudbury, Massachusetts
I picked up a copy of “An Inner Silence – The Portraits of Henri Cartier-Bresson” the other day. Looking at the photos in the book, I was struck by how the style of candid portraits has changed. HCB portraits are quiet and reflective. In the book, HCB is quoted as saying “Above all, I look for an inner silence. I seek to translate the personality and not an expression.” I’d contrast that with most of the current writing, which emphasizes gesture, expression and emotion (generally something other than the silent type of HCB). Just found that interesting, nothing more.
Mar 22, 2007
Backofbeyond, B.C.
Karsh looked for people's "inward power". He wrote "the inward power is part
of the elusive secret that hides in everyone. The mask we present to others
and, too often, to ourselves, may lift for only a second- to reveal that power
in an unconscious gesture, a raised brow, a surprised response, a moment of
of repose. This is the moment to record."
These are the ways of the masters and I doubt there was ever an easy step
taken along their paths.
Feb 5, 2005
Some interesting comments here about portrait photography.

Cartier-Bresson and Karsh were both working with gear and equipment that's positively antediluvian in so many ways, but their works carry both a whimsey and a gravitas both that's lacking in so much work I see now. It's rare in the extreme, for example, to see a portrait that carries the moment and man so precisely as Karsh's portrait of Winston Churchill.

And, following on Karsh's comment about this kind of shooting, there are no quick and easy paths to that kind of shooting. Sadly, more MP or a carbon fiber tripod or incredibly fancy lighting can't deliver that performance.

It's a skill and an art.

John P.
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