Sunday, August 24, 2008

Tampa portrait photographers ... artists?

Yesterday I had a portrait session with Julie and her family. They called because it was a rare opportunity to get four generations of women in one picture. The session went well and everyone was pleased with the portraits.

Except me.

When you book a session with a portrait photographer (or a children's photographer, baby photographer, wedding photographer, etc...) you should be photographed by someone who considers themselves (on some level) an artist. I remember talking to my Dad one day about how people perceive photographers and he said, "The U.S. Government considers it "art," so it's "art." (Dad sometimes has a very easy answer to things..) Sometimes I feel a little self-conscious calling myself an "artist" but the fact is that taking a standard portrait involves very little artistic vision at all. It's mostly just technical knowledge about lighting and posing. It's what I do after I take the portrait that's art.

So, yesterday after we were finished with the standard portrait poses, I asked the four women if they would indulge me for a few minutes, "I want to take a picture of your hands."

This picture is, to me, much more interesting than a portrait. Four generations of women, each holding the arm of her daughter until eventually the circle is complete with the 14-year-old reaching back in time to hold on to her 98-year-old great-grandmother. I shot several different setups, some with jewelry and some without but I think the one with the jewelry is my favorite. Not only can you see the ages in their hands but the jewelry tells a story as well. The great-grandmother and grandmother wearing gold chains as has been the custom with Latino women for centuries, the mom a little more modern with her stylish watch and finally the daughter with her string friendship bracelets.

I also like this one because the bright friendship bracelets stand out. The daughter's hand is front and center, the future of the family, but you see where she comes from.... the strong women who have come before her to make her who she is today.

I don't know if I'm an artist or not but, sometimes, I think I take good pictures. :)

Booray Perry is a portrait and family photographer in Tampa Bay.