THE ART OF THE PORTRAIT
The idea for this kind of picture began with a completely formed perception. In a mental image I saw the aesthetics of a process. In its simplest form, it was, for the artist to compel perception.
That is, to elicit, to compel the person whose portrait is being made to be thoroughly engaged: that is, to see the photographer.
I knew that perception between individuals is a large issue. We can barely see ourselves. And, most of us have only a rudimentary sense of another individual.
I have always regarded fine art painting as the antecedent of fine art photography, in the sense that the aims and preoccupations of an authentic fine art photographer and a fine art painter, in history, are identical.
There are differences, of course. Photography is, perforce, a simpler art. There is so much less control in photography. A painter can say so many things over a large landscape. Essentially fine art photography can say only a single thing.
In fine art painting since the Renaissance, for the most part, the subject of a portrait is looking off to the side. They are not engaging the painter. They are sitting for a portrait. The painter imagines their character; he is in the context of his time. He creates the work of art. They are separate. She sits and he imagines, through the wonder of the human mind and a thousand brush strokes.
When you see a portrait in which the person seems to be actually looking at you, you can, in a way, actually engage the individual in the painting. In this portrait the painter and the subject are with each other, looking at each other.