Saturday, 13 August 2016
One of my photographic aims for the next year is to improve my skills at making portraits.
They're difficult. When you're shooting an old car or a piece of Victorian architecture you can stand right in front of it, rudely snapping away with no regard for its feelings or self-esteem. You don't have to chat to keep it interested - you can be as boring as you like and it will almost certainly continue to pose attractively. It has no investment in the outcome, flattering or interestingly ugly.
None of those things are true for people, and I find the whole process a big challenge. So I started with some portraits of a dog, as a kind of in-between stage.
Vicky is a very beautiful dog, certainly, though not always elegant in her behaviour, as evidenced a few weeks after this shoot when she engaged too closely with a skunk. We all paid the price for that.
She did appear to enjoy having her picture taken, posing happily - but with an appealingly tragic cast of countenance - for ages on J's knee as he held up a black bathroom towel for the background. The set-up probably looked quite odd if anyone passing by had happened to look in the window, but I'm pleased with the results.
One time I read an article in Oprah magazine about how much people would be willing to pay to save the life of their pet. For many, the answer ran into the hundreds of thousands. I asked J how much he'd be prepared to stump up for Vicky's life, and he said he couldn't tell me, as I would not think that well of him once I heard the figure. Maybe he needs to revise that sum upwards now that she's turned out to be such an international-class model.