Contender: Joel Aron
|This Article Features Photo Zoom|
Copyright © Joel Aron
What's the story behind this portrait?
A year ago I started working the model from Belarus, Anastasia Bachykala. I obsessed for days on the color palettes for lighting and she texted me images of wardrobe ideas. We had my studio and a MUA lined up, that of course fell through the evening before. But the MUA was also Anastasia's ride to my studio, so I arrived at Anastasia's apartment at 8am that she shares with 6 other Russian speaking students. I took a painting down from the wall and taped up a 6′ x 6′ piece of green velvet fabric in its place and blocked the window with a 100cm Elinchrom light bank. Grabbed my Leica M for that contrast-y look of 60's Vogue. To look at this image, it's difficult to extract that we were crammed in to a corner of a small kitchen with a swatch of fabric taped to a drab yellow wall, stepping over cables and temporarily displaced furniture.
Why do you like to shoot portraits?
Portrait shooting has been a passion for over 10 years now, and has safely directed me away from shooting street photography. I have always been able to capture a portrait, but it was switch to digital for me that took my portrait shooting to another level. When I was shooting 4x5 or 6x6 film, I would end up talking more than shooting, but when I started to detach myself from the equipment, the soul of each portrait started to become deeper. Switching to digital, I was able to capture several emotions in a series of images, and hone the direction a shoot was going in a lot quicker.
What do you think makes a great portrait?
I feel that a great portrait is one that captures the viewer equally as much as the subject, while weaving in the creative vision of the photographer. It's a delicate balance, and something that is always my endless challenge with each subject.
Whose portrait work do you especially admire or feel influenced by?
I always start with Henri Cartier-Bresson. There is something about the way he shot portraits, and managed to capture that moment he wanted to capture. Of course he did it so well with his street photography, but his portraits have a soul to them that is far more present that anything else shot in the style of candid portraiture. From there, it's Irving Penn, and Richard Avedon. Many years ago, their images introduced me to the quality of tone, shape, and composition in a portrait that was incomparable to everything else shot in their life time, or even today.
Equipment used: Leica M Typ240, Leica 50mm f/2 Summicron-M lens, Elinchrom Style BX 500 Ri Compact MonoLight, Light bank, Inner diffuser, white deflector, Single thin curtain.
Contender: Caesar Lima
Contender: Joel Aron
Contender: Tatiana Gerusova
Contender: Matt Anderson
Contender: Kristina Varaksina
Contender: Haven Hartman
Contender: Alex Sneiders