What makes a good portrait a good portrait is not the amount of collaboration, it is a photographer’s willingness to take what s/he wants. If that sounds too Nietzsche to you, then, well, maybe you don’t want to take portraits.

It’s much, much harder to be selfish when working with someone after having gained consent. This involves asking (and, possibly, rejection). It gets hardest when there’s more at stake than just a good picture – let’s face it, even the greatest photographs are just photographs, really not more, but also most certainly not less.

via Matthew Swarts and Beth | Conscientious Photography Magazine.

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1 Comment

  1. Antonin Kratochvil says the same things essentially, but also that it’s a matter of trust–the trust to let you do your thing–and not just mere consent (which isn’t enough). How he is able to take the kinds of portraits he does of the people he does is one of the greatest feats of photography I know of. Look at his portraits of people like Debbie Harry and Priscilla Presley, and you definitely know what Matthew Swarts is talking about in his post (his examples are a little timid by comparison). As for the asshole part, the better approach might be not to take that person/groups photo in the first place. If they don’t like your work, they don’t like your work, so what’s the point?

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