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.


To be continued…


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