Category Archives: Portraits

Portraits from the March on Downing Street

On the evening of 30th of January I went to the march on Downing Street to protest Trump’s racist travel ban and Theresa May’s desperation to become his best friend.

Here are some portraits from the evening. The only way to describe the march was gentle and bittersweet. Every part of society was there enjoying being together and scared of the future – bittersweet.

Hope you like them,

Alex

 

New Photographica interview with Babycakes Romero

“WE’RE HERE FOR THE BLINK OF AN EYE”

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Babycakes Romero is a photographer who is across many different visual media. His work encompasses animation, videography, script writing, street photography as well as dj-ing and record production.

Babycakes Romero and Alex Schneideman discuss:

  • Approach to street photography
  • Encompassing many different media
  • Early visual influences
  • The nature of time as described by a camera
  • Favourite cameras
  • The viral effect
  • Who gets paid for a viral sensation? Clue – it isn’t the photographer.

The first half of this conversation is about is working practises – how he manages to remain productive across so many media. The second half is all about his viral sensation, ‘The Death of Conversation’ which is a series of street shots that show people lost to the world around them as they gaze lovingly at their smart phones. Babycakes is questioning whether this relationship between human and phone is a good thing. The series stock a chord and, in 2014 and 15 he found himself a regular contributor to news items on the subject and it all culminated in a Ted Talk. In the course of a year his life changed as millions of people clicked on his images.

Listen to the podcast and get in touch.

Please rate Photographic on iTunes – it means a lot and you’ll get a name check!

If you’d like to discuss printing some of your work contact me at alex@asprinting.net or have a look at www.asprinting.net.

You can find out more about Babycakes Romero’s work at www.babycakesromero.com and at his Youtube channel or follow @babycakesromero for his #myldn series.

 

 

The Dissection of a Wedding Party

I subscribe to a blog by my friend Derrick Knight, who plots daily life and never misses a day or a detail and it is fascinating – link below.

Recently Derrick posted a scan of an image of a wedding party taken in the 1920’s. He posted in such high resolution that I was able to copy it and make some ‘sub portraits’.

There is so much to be excited about here. Looking into the faces of those who have gone before is gives us a thrill that humans have only just been afforded. We can look at a great painted portrait and, as great a work of art as it may be, we are still looking at painted strokes. Whereas a photograph is a passive, objective record (obviously the is highly disputed by Barthes et al).

But lets say that a picture of a wedding group is about as objective as a photograph can get. Its intention being to record a group of people all together at one time – the camera here is a merely a recording device – not an interpreting device. One could argue that any other intentionality that could be attributed to the photographer, camera, or image is excluded by the intention – ergo the intention to record the group objectively and for posterity.

So, assuming that you agree with me – look into these faces from the recent past and marvel at how time just seems to melt as, simultaneously, we look into the faces of today. Filter out the scratchy quality and the outdated garb and what we can see is nothing other than the ghosts of ourselves.

It sends shivers down my spine.

 

 

 

 

 

http://derrickjknight.com/2015/03/04/revealing-the-ancestors/

http://derrickjknight.com

PSYCHE PHOTO #10 – CHAD LELONG

#10 in a series on the role of psychology in photography.

Chad Lelong is the son of Jean Lelong and partner of Lene Sahlholdt. He is a professional pianist and one of my oldest (if not my oldest) friends.

He is one of the most loved people I know – he is welcomed everywhere he goes. He does nothing to garner this – it just happens. He was even listed as someone’s favourite thing about London in a Time Out interview.

Chad is roughly the same age as me (albeit a couple of years younger) so when I look closely at this image I can see signs of his ageing and consequently mine.

The question is; in selecting the portraits I show of my sitters am I seeking to produce an image which introduces them to the rest of the world or is the final image one that reflects something about my own psychology and, in which case, is the portrait just a vehicle for my subconscious?

 To be continued

FULL SIZE PORTRAIT HERE

Please click on ‘best seen in full’ (bottom left) to view correctly.

PSYCH PHOTO #8 – KALEED SAAOUDY

#8 in a series on the role of psychology in photography.

KALEED SAAOUDY – Kaleed runs the ‘4+1’ cafe on the corner of Golborne Road and Portobello. He is Moroccan by birth but has lived (and raised children in Norway) – a true cosmopolitan.

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Kaleed is one of the most generous and personable people I have met for a long time. He is someone I consider to be a ‘citizen of the world’. Someone for whom race, religion and country have little meaning.

There is a sadness in this image too. Its source is unknown to me. The portrait reminds me of a kindly eagle. Kaleed is wary of the camera but his wariness exposes other facets of his character.

These facets maybe made manifest by invoking subconscious reactions. Having a camera pointed at you from close range makes many people feel uncomfortable. Why is this? And what does this say about the subconscious? 

The process of making a portrait seems to be very fluid and perhaps never finished.

FULL SIZE PORTRAIT HERE

Please click on ‘best seen in full’ (bottom left) to view correctly.

PSYCH PHOTO #8 – KALEED SAAOUDY

#8 in a series on the role of psychology in photography.

KALEED SAAOUDY – Kaleed runs the ‘4+1’ cafe on the corner of Golborne Road and Portobello. He is Moroccan by birth but has lived (and raised children in Norway) – a true cosmopolitan.

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Kaleed is one of the most generous and personable people I have met for a long time. He is someone I consider to be a ‘citizen of the world’. Someone for whom race, religion and country have little meaning.

There is a sadness in this image too. Its source is unknown to me. The portrait reminds me of a kindly eagle. Kaleed is wary of the camera but his wariness exposes other facets of his character.

These facets maybe made manifest by invoking subconscious reactions. Having a camera pointed at you from close range makes many people feel uncomfortable. Why is this? And what does this say about the subconscious? 

 To be continued

The process of making a portrait seems to be very fluid and perhaps never finished.

FULL SIZE PORTRAIT HERE

As the series continues I will expand on this psychological theory of portraiture and how we, the viewers, engage with it.

Please click on ‘best seen in full’ (bottom left) to view correctly.

THESE PEOPLE #8 – ZIA LAZAR

Zia Lazar – Zia is a Christian Iraqi hairdresser who has lived in London for decades. He lives with and cares for his ninety year old mother and works in a salon called ‘Dorotea’s’ in Portobello Road.

When I visit Zia for a haircut we talk about barbequeing. He has a group of friends who spend much of the year discussing, preparing and cooking barbeques. The amount of meat these guys eat is legendary. Iraqis, it turns out, are champion barbequers.
I chose this portrait partly because it reflects the rather superficial impression I have of Zia – his pride. But I suspect he is also a highly sensitive man and I like this picture because I can see both these qualities in him here.

My selection of this portrait of Zia is influenced by my knowledge of him. In some way it meets my expectation of a portrait of someone I know but you probably do not know him. I wonder what chasm of experience there is between mine and yours as we both stare at the same picture of another human face.
My thesis is that all photography (and art) is less about the absorption of a fixed set of parameters to which the human mind responds passively. Rather, our appreciation of art is about applying ones subconscious to external stimuli. Somewhere in the mess of neurons and grey slime we call our brains images are processed and seized upon by all aspects of our personalities to produce a response.
Through our personal and shared experiences and mental development we impose ourselves on art and not the other way round. In other words it is each and everyone of us who is responsible for the masterworks we attribute to the genius of others.

The process of making a portrait seems to be very fluid and perhaps never finished.

PORTRAIT OF ZIA LAZAR

To be continued…

 

THESE PEOPLE #7 – THOMAS REES

THOMAS REES – Thomas is a journalist and editor who lives on Golborne Road and works with me on my magazine, SMACK.

I met Thomas when I was about 19 working in a bar in Nottinghill called 192. It was frequented by luminaries from the arts (all branches) and Thomas was a regular. Much later (I’m now 45) I met Thomas again when I opened my studio on Portobello Road.

Thomas is a finely tuned human by which I mean he is alive to the stories of other people. He is interested in everyone (and devastatingly disdainful of others who he might describe as a ‘long drink of water’ – for Thomas this is as low as you can get. It means you are a bore) and he has created a kind of personal republic in which everyone; beggar, thief, magnate, artist are equal.

Normally Thomas wears glasses but because they were reflecting badly I asked him to take them off. Suddenly he looked naked. I chose this picture because it surprised me – who am I to tell you who my sitters are through an arbitrary selection of one image? If I’m surprised then so much the better.

We look at portraits as objects or, in other words, a literal depiction of the human they represent. But are they not something quite different? A psychologist told me that when someone with ‘body dysmorphia‘ looks at themselves in a picture or mirror they see not purely what is reflected but a comparison with every physiognomy they have ever encountered and the ideals of their imaginations. In this way, I would assert, when we look at a picture of another face the image which is formed in the mind is coloured according to one’s own psychology.

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Perhaps the portrait that you are looking at should really be considered as a ‘one off’ because portraits can only be viewed on an individual basis according to one’s own experience and influences. Perhaps all images are just starting points for the imagination and should no longer be regarded as having universal significance.

 To be continued

The process of making a portrait seems to be very fluid and perhaps never finished.

PORTRAIT OF THOMAS REES

As the series continues I will expand on this psychological theory of portraiture and how we, the viewers, engage with it.

Please click on ‘best seen in full’ (bottom left) to view correctly.

THESE PEOPLE #5 – LENE SAHLHOLDT

LENE SAHLHODT – Lene is a singer who lives in London but comes from Denmark.

1_L1020219_schneidemanLene is one of the bravest people I know. This is probably why I chose this image. I responded to the strength of her gaze and her posture. Her look to camera is pure and not riven with circumspection or apprehension. To what extent is this picture, or even this selection, an expression of something I responded to both during the shoot and while I was selecting?

The process of making a portrait seems to be very fluid and perhaps never finished.

PORTRAIT OF LENE SAHLHOLDT

As the series continues I will expand on this psychological theory of portraiture and how we, the viewers, engage with it.

Please click on ‘best seen in full’ (bottom left) to view correctly.

THESE PEOPLE #4 – JON LEVENE

JON LEVENE – Jon and I have been friends for some years. He is a photographer/film maker/writer.

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This portrait was made when he was very tired. We are similar in age and have some vague cultural (Jewish) similarities in our backgrounds. Jon is impressively unimpressed by what other people might make of him. This is not the way I find myself. This picture of Jon appeals to me more than the others, perhaps its the slightly twisted neck or the exhausted look straight into camera. Perhaps its the way his poise is slightly uncomfortable. I’m not sure but I prefer it to the others I shot at the time.

PORTRAIT OF JON LEVENE

As the series continues I will expand on this psychological theory of portraiture and how we, the viewers, engage with it.

Please click on ‘best seen in full’ (bottom left) to view correctly.