Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Belly Button Exercise

Many City Daily Photo Bloggers this week are participating in a "festival of the belly button" exercise, reflecting on the way their photography and their blogs have changed since their blogs began.

Here is a photograph from August 2010 -- about six weeks after my blog began -- of Ken Kahn and Thomas Hooker:







Ken was the executive director of the Greater Hartford Arts Council and played a big role in adding more public art in the region, including this statue of a Hartford founder.

Here is a previously unpublished photograph of Heather and Suzi, taken in November 2012:

What are the odds that a woman in a green V-neck sweater and black pants would walk past me just as I was looking at this painting?  Heather is a curator at the New Britain Museum of American Art.  I asked her to stand with Norbert Brunner's 2010 three dimensional work, Suzi.  Suzi is painted with dots on four sides of a plexiglass cube, each side of which is composed of three plexi sheets.  It is influenced by pointillism.
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The similarities in the two images are strong . . . in each case I posed someone with a work of art.  The more recent composition is stronger.   The biggest growth is in process.  I know Ken very well, so when I encountered him, it was easy to ask a friend to pose.  (He might even have been the one to suggest standing next to the Hooker statue.)  But, now I have become very comfortable about walking up to complete strangers like Heather.  I tell them about my blog, ask if I can take their picture, and then tell them where to stand and where to look.  So, today I am able to show a wider variety of people in my portraits, not just my friends, and the compositions are often better.

28 comments:

Halcyon said...

I do think you do a great job with people, Jack. It's never been my strong point as a photographer. Sadly, I don't have time to participate in this "festival" but I'm enjoying what people are posting. :)

Luis Gomez said...

Great portraits Jack!

Stefan Jansson said...

What are the odds indeed. Lucky coincidence.

Valladolid Daily Photo said...

The first one is really funny.

Janet said...

Great post, Jack! I had to learn to walk up to strangers when I was a news reporter, and it's still not my favorite thing to do! But sometimes it is certainly worth it.

Malyss said...

I'm blogging since 5 years and a half now, and still never ask to strangers to pose! :o)
But a great change was that I met so much great people all over the world, and some became close friends, the most precious gift!

Sharon said...

Good job on both these photos. And very good eye spotting Heather in her outfit matching the painting.

Karl Demetz said...

I'm amused, very clever, Jack!

Sylvia K said...

I really love your photos and your composition! It is fun, isn't it? I've been blogging over four years now. I had never been one for taking photos except of my kids when they were growing up and the only camera I ever used for years were the disposable ones. And then my son gave me a great camera because I was having difficulty with retirement -- didn't know what to do with myself??? My kids were grown and I was no longer working! What now?? About the same time I discovered blogging and I've been a busy old broad ever since!! And all of us do seem to have fun, don't we!

Taken For Granted said...

Jack, both portraits are great. The second one is a real grabber since Heather is wearing the same clothes as in the art work. Looks like you did careful planning for this photo, but what were the odds?

cieldequimper said...

Hmmmm, good choice. I envy you for being able to walk up to people and just ask them...

RedPat said...

Love the shot of Heather & Suzi. I am too shy to ask people to pose for me but I sure enjoy the results you get by doing so, Jack!

CaT said...

i like the greens indeed!
i would never dare to ask someone for a portrait.... but then i also prefer to take pictures when people dont notice. ...

jennyfreckles said...

You're much braver than I. (Though being deaf doesn't assist me in talking to strangers!) And yes, your photography, always good, has developed a lot recently. You get some wonderful portriaits especially.

Genie -- Paris and Beyond said...

Bravo, Jack! You have certainly grown in your confidence as well. It is not an easy step to affirmatively state that you are a photographer, but clearly you are!

Bises,
Genie

Gunn said...

Great ART and Great COMPOSITION in YOUR images.

Ali Crehan said...

Great illustration of the festival theme - and nice photos!

Michelle said...

I think you do a fantastic job with portraits. I am not very bold about approaching people to photograph.

Randy said...

How lucky. Nice shots.

Bob Crowe said...

You have learned one of candid photography's most important lessons. It's amazing to discover that people are usually ok about posing.

PerthDailyPhoto said...

Well done Jack, I think I'm going to take a lead from you and try to be a bit braver this way..Do you ever get any knock backs?

Joan Elizabeth said...

Great selection for the theme and good to hear of how your photography has developed.

SRQ said...

You executed this exercise very well, Jack. As a regular to HDP, I can attest to the improvements I've seen in your photography. I recall one time you mentioned on SDP that you couldn't imagine approaching strangers. And, then, all of a sudden (it seemed), you started posting all kinds of nice portraits of strangers. That's an impressive way to stretch and grow. Bravo!

Julie said...

Thank you for participating in the first Festival on the City Daily Photo portal, Jack. It was fascinating to read your own analysis of your craft, and to read through the responses of your regular readers.

I agree that to bowl up to complete strangers and ask to take their photograph is a massive challenge, but it also relieves the photographer of a massive burden, to know that their subject is okay with what is about to happen. Always a worry in this day and age.

Many thanks, Jack.

Kate said...

Blogging certainly has many beneficial side effects. Love that bottom photo for the obvious reasons mentioned in other comments.

☆•.¸.Mildred.¸.•☆ said...

Very nice portraits!
Bravo Jack!

☆•.¸.Mildred.¸.•☆ said...

Very nice portraits!
Bravo Jack!

Nathalie Beaumes said...

That belly button exercise has enabled many bloggers to demonstrate their growing skills - what a great idea. Your talent in making contact with people and getting them to pose for you never ceases to amaze me. Congratulations, I'm always so impressed !

Great photo here and indeed the odds that someone dressed just like in this artwork would pass nearby were slim... but you saw the opportunity and that has to do with eye and perception far more than with luck. The savvy photographer knows how to seize the opportunity. Others just do see the opportunity.