My print shop has a big window fronting onto the street. People call in or pass by. I feel drawn to making a portrait of some of these passers by.
I suspend a grey cloth and ask my subject to stand in front of it and, using the abundant daylight streaming through the window, I make between 10 and 20 exposures. I always use the same lens and camera. The ‘noise’ visible in the image increases when the weather is bad and I can’t get a good exposure. I choose my favourite picture and post it on my website.
The exposures I choose show the internal gap of the sitter; the space between their personality (that which they project – their ego) and the most profound silence within them; something which we all share. And something of myself which, I, the photographer, subconsciously project onto the subject.
This first one is of Sheldon James. Sheldon has a food stall on Golborne Road called Trini Flava. On any Friday or Saturday you will find a group of people surrounding the stall some of whom are eating but the rest are discussing metaphysics and philosophy. Conversations can run for hours and even days. Sheldon chairs the discussions with grace.
Gazing at (and indeed making) portraits of others is as much about self projection as it is about objective concentration on an other being. Rembrandt understood this and in another post I will relate which aspects of his work have been so important in influencing mine.
I’ll be posting new portraits regularly.