Portraits Of The World; A Study In Contrasts

"You cannot stand anywhere in the universe that is outside of yourself."--Deepak Chopra

This month you'll see a study in contrasts. From elegant, traditional portraits that set new standards for the family portrait studio to in-your-face photographs of real people on the street. Along the way, you'll learn what I consider athletics to be and why I like panoramic images when done with a deft touch. But nothing shows the power of photography more than contrasting the portraits made by Dick Sanders.

If you want to recommend your own or a friends website, please e-mail the URL to joe@joefarace.com

In our August issue an incorrect URL was given for Larry Pratt. His work can be seen at www.arts-cape.com/larrypratt.

For "Portraits At Sam's Market," Dick Sanders set up a portable studio outside a convenience store for two years. In this series, people glower at the camera, seemingly daring Sanders to "capture their souls," but he manages to do it anyway.
© 2004, Dick Sanders, All Rights Reserved

Portraits From The Real World
Dick Sanders is an interesting guy. Like many of us, he became interested in photography while young, but the career path that led him to create the arresting images that populate this site (www.dicksanders.com) is a circuitous one, so be sure to learn more in the "About" section. He set up a portable studio outside a convenience store for two years. In "Portraits At Sam's Market," people glower at the camera, seemingly daring Sanders to "capture their souls," but despite their tough facades, he manages to do it anyway. See what I mean by looking at SM#18 (a title you can really wrap your tongue around) for a true American Gothic portrait of contemporary life.
Unlike the lack of caption information at Sam's, Sander's Street Portraits contain images and captions that are illustrated novels about life on the streets of Los Angeles. Here, you'll see some of the Diane Arbus influence Sanders acknowledges, but without the condescending detachment that often bugs me in her work. (OK, so I'm not A.D. Coleman.) Almost as fascinating is the series of images of the passing scene captured by camera on a tripod in front of a cantina door in Tijuana, Mexico. All of the images on view are available in limited edition (only 22!) silver prints, so visit the "Purchase" section for prices and details. There's lots of powerful images found in the other collections including "Other Interesting Things," so take your time, poke around, and experience photography that peels layers off the universe, revealing true humanity. The excellent site design is by Brian Brown (krodzone@yahoo.com).

Mark Scheffer's panoramic images contain striking contrasts from the Tatooine-like desert of "Sands" to a snow-covered "Red Cabin." There's even a vertical panoramic, something most photographers forget to make.
© 2004, Mark Scheffer, All Rights Reserved

The Wide View
Mark Scheffer was born and raised in Europe, which makes his panoramic images of the U.S.A. all the more fascinating because they are as exotic to him as a view of the Zugspitze in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, may be to you and me. His site (www.schefferimages.com) contains other landscape collections and one on wildlife, which are not in the panoramic format. In fact, there are only two collections of panoramic images; one in color and one in black and white. As Scheffer himself notes, "Most people are not used to seeing monochrome panoramic images," and his quiet, introspective images make the viewer part of the space. "Convict Lake Aspens," for example, takes on a whole other feeling than had it been in color. By the way, thanks, Scheffer, for providing captions and a way for visitors to comment on each of your photographs. His color panoramics contain striking contrasts from the Tatooine-like desert of "Sands" to a snow-covered "Red Cabin." There's even a vertical panoramic, something most photographers forget to make. Images are for sale at modest prices, but before you leave make sure to view Scheffer's other collections to see images captured with skill, care, and sensitivity.

While the cycling and Nordic skiing images on Paul Phillips' website are especially colorful and exciting, even his soccer photographs have lots of action and color when seen through his lens. Sports fans and fans of sports photography will love this site.
© 2004, Paul Phllips, All Rights Reserved

Triathalon
Charles Schulz's Snoopy once confided that his idea of a triathlon was donuts, pizza, and a hot fudge sundae. While that's the kind of athletic contest I'm most comfortable with, Paul Phillips shoots the real thing. And I mean shoots; his Competitive Image website (www.competitiveimage.us) contains photographs of the biathlon, a curious mixture of skis and rifles that nevertheless looks like fun. Phillips likes the site's design by Factor of 4 (www.factorof4.com) because it's functional and easy for him to update. I wish it were easier to navigate (it's easy to get lost in the pop-up menus) with a design that was more edgy in keeping with the dynamics of the kind of sports Phillips photographs.

What kind is that? You name it, you got it, Bunky. Here you'll find cycling, Nordic skiing, running, tae kwan do, and, my favorite, the triathlon. All were photographed not just with an enthusiast's eye but with a sense of where these people are and what they are doing. While the cycling and Nordic skiing images are colorful and exciting, the tae kwan do photographs, except for a few pensive portraits of young athletes, look like everybody else's. Even his images of soccer, a sport that everybody/nobody hates/loves has lots of action and color when seen through Phillips' lens. Sports fans and fans of sports photography will love this site.

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