Graffiti, at least interesting and well done graffiti are great to find for making portraits. I don't mind 'busy' backgrounds. I think they can add to a photograph as you search to discover the subjects within the somewhat chaotic visual design. Its active and as a viewer we have to be active ourselves in looking at it. Sometimes we need to be jolted awake in looking at the billions of the same photographs being made by millions of people(just think about how many pictures you've seen of two friends cheek to cheek with one arm extended disappear up behind the edge of the frame--the arm that is holding the digital point and shoot camera or cell phone out to snap the shot). I like this location under a bridge in Meadville, its got good graffiti and its fun to take a well dressed family to in order to make their portrait. Thanks to the Hyatts for indulging me, I hope hey like the photographs. SayerMotter Photograph by Richard Sayer
I have to admit, this is a portrait scheme I've been doing for a long long time. One of my first newspaper assignments was a portrait of two comedians and the comedy club owner. This was for a small weekly paper in Rhode Island(I had actually had my wisdom teeth taken out two days earlier so it wasn't hard to get the comedians to laugh!) I stacked em. I worked out really well and the paper ran the photo as a skinny long vertical photo on its front page. This past weekend, when we had a little trouble getting our young subjects to stay focused on the very adult idea of a family portrait(You mean family play time?) I suggested that mommy and daddy each got together and the young one could then climb on top and lean on daddy's head. It worked out great two days in a row and we were able to get several frames each with different expressions and both fun. I haven't gone through them all yet, but liked these two for different reasons and thought they'd be good to show as todays featured picture. SayerMotter Photographs by Richard Sayer
Tonight I met and photographed Corrie, Dustin and Jovi for a family portrait. I told Corrie and Dustin that I though Jovi would grow up to be a CEO of a company. She seems to know what she wants and she just goes for it. I did very little in trying to organize the shoot, I just said--lets see where this goes as Jovi moved the little stool from side to side. I just sorta gave a little direction to the parents to kiss and took frames of little Jovi doing what she did. I liked this frame alot and though I know I have other photos that show the closeness of this family, I just thought this was a sweet little aside sort of moment--the kind of moments that are real and beautiful if you take the time to notice them. Earlier in the day I saw a mom in the super-market not taking the time to notice her own sons actions that I thought were quite cute(admittedly I am an outside observer not living that sort of 'cuteness' 24/7). Even though I had a different sort of picture in mind tonight, I was glad that I am the sort of photographer that documents more than creates---this style allowed me the chance to see and photograph this picture. SayerMotter Photograph by Richard Sayer
So, I was hanging out at a local gas station snapping photos and this guy started talking to me about my tattoo of John Lennon. He was telling me about how he thought that John Lennon was a great guy because in the late 70's he donated some money to the New York City Police Department for some bullet proof vests. I immediately liked this guy, not because he was praising John Lennon, but because he was super colorful. He was showing off his tattoo and he wanted me and everyone to know that he supports the Prisoners of War. I never caught his name but, that's o.k. He is simply gas station guy to me!
Photo By: Harmony Motter
Today I had two sessions, one a senior portrait with Jared Yount at his home and the other with the Hyatt's in the studio and around Meadville. Everytime I do another portrait session I find I'm beginning to really enjoy trying to find 'that' picture. Thats what we do everyday at the paper--seek 'that' one frame that tells the story the best way we can. Since we don't really practice formulaic photography(turn to the right smile, now left--smile, now straight and again--smile) its not always that simple. These two pictures are just a couple of about 100 each that I took in searching for 'that' portrait. These are two that I really like, but ultimately its Jared and his mom and the Hyatts that will determine if I represented their true portraits, and I'll give them each a few more to choose from for sure. I sure to have fun in this field of photography. SayerMotter Photographs by Richard Sayer
I think the first photographer that really got me excited about photography(other than Bob Thayer of the Providence Journal) was Ed Steichen. Stiechen started the whole Family of Man photographic concept--a concept that is really the corner stone of documentary photography still practiced today. Steichen was an all-round photographer doing assignments in portraiture, commercial products, fine arts and magazine work. He and Alfred Steiglitz are discussed hand in hand with the photo secession movement which brought photography into discussion among artist and the art world in the early 1900's. My favorite Steichen images were his portraits. His use of soft greys and even softer light to me created atmosphere which led to a greater mood in the photographs. I loved the off lighting and how hints of the persons features led me me to imagine and fill in the gaps of the subjects personality. Its not a portraiture for people who don't want to take the time to enjoy and experience a photograph, but would rather see the person quick and easy. Its a portraiture that makes you wonder. When I came across this image from a recent photo shoot I was thinking about this sort of portraiture and wondering if it still has a place. Some of the old portraiture of Steichen was due to a process that wasn't developed fully and the resulting images were a direct result of how an image could be made then. Today we certainly have tools to produce, without much fuss at all, high quality well lit and technically superior images, but is there something in the 'style' of these to still explore? We could certainly go through the old processes with film, but that is time consuming and messy. So I'm wondering if the aesthetic alone is something pursue or is it only valid through the process? I might try experimenting further with this to see if I can achieve a 'look' that isn't contrived, but helpful in making a good modern portrait work.
I see a lot of Fedora's again around, my nephew plays in a band and often wears one (and a tie--doesn't take after his father or uncle). I photographed BreAnn the other night and we did a few pictures with the hat. Even though in this picture you can barely see the hat--the attitude within the expression comes from the hat and gesturing with it. We use things like clothing and props to get our subjects into certain frames of mind--for instance if you don a leather jacket its unlikely the pictures we get will look sweet--they are more likely to look tough. This photo came about largely because of the hat and photographing in the space between BreAnn's arm and head and focussing not on her, but her reflection in the mirror. Given the florescent lighting the color was pretty much deadened so when I reduce the hue and saturation her lips and finger nails began to pop out a little. I pushed this a little further by saturating the reds and pinks. Not sure what I think of this, but for tonight it seemed good enough to post as the featured picture. SayerMotter Photography photograph by Richard Sayer
This photo was taken on a rainy day on Peaks Island, Maine. I was approaching the ferry to travel to Portland and I noticed the buoys hanging off the side of the railings. I learned a little bit about buoys. Here is what I learned… All buoys float. There are three types of buoys: Navigational, mooring, and fishing. Mooring buoys are used to tie a boat to. Navigational buoys are used as an aid in navigating your boat. Fishing buoys are used to mark fishing nets, crab traps etc. One should try to avoid fishing buoys. They usually indicate shallow water. So, there are your fun facts for the day!
Photo By: Harmony Motter