The technique and the philosophy that underpins the work of our featured
"I usually work in medium format, with a Mamiya RZ67, and often I work in large format, with a 4x5 and also a big 8x10 camera. Yes, it's harder to work that way; it's more cumbersome. But there is something wonderful about what happens when you make portraits in 8x10. You get something... I guess I would describe it as more soulful. In terms of working with the big camera, it takes a lot of skill to make that big box disappear. What I mean is, to get the subject to forget that there's this big thing in front of him or her.
"Whenever I start the process of photographing someone, I am always thinking, 'What is it I can identify about them as creative individuals, and why now? What's special about this moment?'
"Does a portrait reveal what someone's inner self is like? Do you know what I believe? I believe that everyone wears a mask, and beneath that mask is another mask. So what a photographer can reveal are the various masks we all wear."
For more on Matthew Rolston's portraits see The Art of Collaboration, or Click Here for a gallery with his images.
"I am interested in individuals who wear their occupation, lifestyle, or region's burden on their faces and bodies. For a lot of these people, asking to photograph them is a strange request, and they are pretty wary. But I show them my photographs and let them know there are all different kinds of people included in the project.
"The personalities change, but not the background, because I always use a seamless and the same lighting setup. We've shot in oil fields at 4 a.m., car garages, mountainsides, whorehouses -- always with the same effect. I use a custom-built twin-lens 8x10 twin-lens reflex camera, because it lets me shoot relatively quickly. With an ordinary view camera, the person gets stiff; with a viewfinder, I can shoot shoot shoot."
For more on Mark Laita's portraits see The Portrait in Double Vision, or Click Here for a gallery with his images.
"I shoot the portraits of my daughter Paula on 8x10, then I scan the film and work on the image in Photoshop. But a lot of people think I get the effect of the Dutch master paintings by manipulating the image somehow. I don't. The lighting is all done in the studio, when I shoot. I don't do anything in Photoshop that I wouldn't do normally in a darkroom.
"For me, this series of portraits really represents a family business. My wife works with me as an assistant, and of course my daughter is the subject. So between us at home we have a lot of time to think about the pictures. It may take three or four days to discuss together and decide how to do a particular picture. And sometimes we work quickly. Once, when Paula came back from a school trip with a terrible sunburn, we immediately saw that it could be a photograph.
"Some people have wondered whether it is right to make your child the subject of work like this. Some of the pictures contain some nudity. It is a responsibility we take very seriously. We have to live with Paula, and we have to face the consequences that these pictures will be around in 50 years, when she is older. Some people say that a girl of this age is too young to give permission to be photographed; but I think if you listen well to your child, you can know if she is giving permission. You have to be sensitive. As for Paula, she loves to be photographed."
For more on Hendrik Kerstens' portraits see The Portrait as Masterpiece, or Click Here for a gallery with his images.
"I make sure everything is planned out before the subject arrives. He or she may have no idea what we're doing until they get there. I get the workable shot -- then go for the risky business. You don't want someone to walk out on you at the beginning.
"Politicians are usually fun because they're not wary about photography. They just want to get on with things. Meanwhile, I want to keep them there until the job is done. During the actual shoot, it's a lot of adrenaline, running around all manic, barking orders at my crew. People see me sweat physically, and I demand so much from the people around me that they know we're serious. And usually they just sort of give in."
For more on Nigel Parry's portraits see The Unexpected View, or Click Here for a gallery with his images.
"I think a portrait is a picture that expresses something about that person, that person's life and personality. It does have to have a moment in it; but at the same time it's a bit of the photographer's impression of them or their setting. The way I really like to do portraits is to capture something from someone's life when I'm with them. I think a lot of stories now are being told with portraiture, a journalistic portraiture, as opposed to just portraits for beauty. They're difficult to do. With journalism you have to be in control and think fast; with portraiture you do have more time to create the situation you want, but you also have to know what you want.
"For Afterwar, in the beginning I wanted to do stories about the war experience. Later it was more the poetic dimension of the reality, and that turned into one picture from each situation. They're not traditional portraits; it's almost an interior portrait.
"In the photo of Oleg, the Russian man getting acupuncture, it was more comfortable with his prostheses for him to recline, and his wife and daughter were there, and he just looked beautiful to me. I had other pictures of him doing things around the center, but this one went past his wounds.
"Afterwar was a very difficult project, and I did it in color, which was especially challenging. When I started I was a black-and-white photographer, and suddenly I was working with no flash, in color, with slide film. And then I was learning to choose film, because I didn't use just one film; I usually used Kodachrome 200 inside and Fujichrome 100 outside. So I was learning to work with the film, and learning how to shoot really slow and make my body into a tripod. I also developed a system of reflectors I bring in now when I'm using ambient light."
For more on Lori Grinker's portraits see The Photojournalistic Portrait, or Click Here for a gallery with her images.