Saturday, June 18, 2011

Ian MacLeod

Ian MacLeod by Tim McLaughlin

Ian MacLeod. Painter. Taken on October 20, 2010.

I'd known when I started that I wanted to photograph Todd, Maurice, and Alan. There were others that I wanted to work with, but it was taking time to co-ordinate schedules. In the meantime, I didn't want to waste the good days before the rains set in and I had to stop using my outdoor studio for the winter. Todd offered to make the suggestion to some of his contacts and passed me Ian's name.

Ian was the first subject I had never met before. He is a calm man, easily moved to laughter and so my best shots of him were in a light mood.

There is a lot to keep in touch with while working - the technical aspects of the photo, depth of field, composition, the camera, the lighting, the lens, and so on - and the interaction with the subject. I talk to the person the whole time. In some ways, there is so much going on that photography becomes almost like automatic writing. At least that is the impression it gives me. You want to be fluid enough with the camera to catch things, but not so premeditated that you lock out possibilities.

It is an interesting fact that almost no one can pose and converse at the same time - and so I use the conversation to keep the subject from stiffening up into a pose. The play of emotions that crosses someone's face even during a single sentence is amazing. But when a person poses they tend to become like cardboard. There is a dynamic between what people want to show and what they actually present. The subject is giving up control of how they are perceived and that involves quite a bit of trust. Or anxiety - depending on who you are.

Irving Penn has a great quote about that:
"Sensitive people faced with the prospect of a camera portrait put on a face they think is one they would like to show the world... very often what lies beyond the fa├žade is rare and more wonderful that the subject knows or dares to believe."

Irving Penn - quoted in 'Portraits' at the National Portrait Gallery, London.
It's a great quote by a great photographer.

See Ian MacLeod's work here: http://www.ianmacleodpaintings.ca

Here is an index of portraits.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you Tim. I enjoyed my time with you and I agree Penn's quote is great.

    ian

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