Once upon a time, I earned my living taking pictures of people. It’s been a long while, though, since I made a photograph of anyone that was anything other than a casual snapshot.

There’s nothing technically good about this image of Crystal. Not much is in focus, the subject is at least partially blurred by motion, the low lighting required a high ISO which made it very grainy. It breaks one of the commonly held rules of portraiture, which is that the center of interest should include the subject’s eyes, clearly rendered.

But it is exactly the fact that her eyes are shut which makes this picture compelling for me. That moment of interiority, of calm, that moment when the camera’s gaze is not registering—that’s the moment that something true appears.

I had forgotten how much I like discovering that opening, the brief period when the subject of a portrait is fully present and is generous enough to show you something authentic of herself. It is a special form of exchange, of conversation. It emerges from trust and courage.

I had forgotten how much I enjoy making portraits.

A Year Ago: In Knots

Plastic wrap in tree.This is not technically a great photograph. And surely no one would imagine I’m in favor of plastic pollution…
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