The Dogs

Friday Photo Flaunt: Portraits

Well it's Friday again. Time for another warm slice of shameless self promotion. Yum.

If you aren't an aspiring (read: unemployed) model or photographer chances are you're not familiar with It's like Myspace for industry people. And by that I mean it was once a great place to network and meet people with similar interests but has now been overrun by douchebags and spammers and is slowly becoming an apocalyptic wasteland filled with man eating spambots. I've had portfolios on this site and others like it for years now. And I've actually picked up some decent shoots from it.
Copyright: Peter Vincent 2010

This photog lists himself as "very experienced"
The problem, like any networking site, is they don't screen. So you end up with one part brilliant artists and reliable models, and three parts flakes, frauds, phonies and dudes that wanna take picture of naked chicks in a motel room. These hack, feauxtographers give all the legit shutterbugs a bad name, just like the flakey, lame models make it nearly impossible to find any decent talent that will actually show up on time. Or at all.

There's also the matter of being side by side with photos like these. This is a bit of a double edged sword, since it can be difficult to be swimming in a sea of this stuff, but on the other hand if someone actually finds your work you might stand out. Although for some reason these guys always seem to be the best at self marketing and take up most of the eyeballs and comments. go figure. I'm a visual person, so I like visual examples. However, I do apologize for what's about to happen to your eyeballs. I'll make it up to you. Promise.

 I can never understand why photographers like this get work and talented people go unnoticed, but in the creative industry these days it happens more often than not. Maybe these guys put more time into promoting their work and less time actually practicing their craft.
These are the photographers I end up competing with alot (That's for you Allie, see also: this amazing post)

These images abound on any site that caters to photographers. Because anywhere you find legitimate photographers you also find perviesauruses. That awesome new term (attention webster's) identifies lame old pervy dudes. They generally just email 300 people until someone agrees to a photo shoot and then they grab their $127 Walmart camera and start rehearsing their "artistic" pitch about why the model should take as much off as possible.

Besides scaring off models with potential, the biggest crime these bozos perpetrate is convincing everyone who needs creative services that we are a dime a dozen free. The irony is while a company would never dream that they could obtain an accountant to do their taxes for free (minor detail for a business) they will almost always expect to find a photographer who will work for free, on the promise of paid work some hallowed day (see also: pie in the sky).

If you're willing to pay a fair wage for a number cruncher why not for the art that is going to represent your product and brand? The issue is the market's flooded, everyone wants to be a photographer so there is never a shortage of people who will work for free. Why pay someone legit when you can hire a free hack?

Anyway, never mind all that. The point here is portraits. Decent portraits, not crap ones. So what makes a good portrait? To me the best portraits don't just capture a subject in a flattering way, but create a Narrative. A great portrait grabs our imagination by capturing the environment of the subject while leaving enough open to invite us to create the rest of the story.

You should always want to know more about the subject. Who is that? Why are they here? What the hell are they up to? Whenever possible I like my subjects to look like they might be in the midst of some trouble.

I also like my subjects to be powerful. Even if that power comes from a place of vulnerability or frailty, they should connote some presence and confidence. No one wants to look at insecure images.

 Shooting with a long lens far away from the subject compresses the background and increases the blurriness, making the subject pop out more. The best way to mimic 35mm film with a digital camera. Yeah. So this is more of an editorial portrait than a artsy fartsy one. But hey, I designed that t-shirt and I shot the image. This was taken in an alley in Oceanside, CA.

 Sometimes just a background, a pensive offscreen look and a racist audience will create a narrative.
This is B-Nise, a buddy from Hollyweird who needed an album cover. Sometimes good people look gangsta. Truth be told, I'm more of a hooligan than this dude.

Okay this is not really a portrait just a snapshot, but get a load of that!

I shot this as part of a series for a movie I was assistant director on back in 2008. The irony? I got paid for that A-D job but not for the photos they featured throughout the actual movie. Big surprise.
Get a load of that 80's awesomeness. House-shoes are my hero. 

Old 35mm scan. Shot in my old studio in LA. I actually shoveled in like 500 lbs. of dirt. 
The clean up was worse than setup. Never again.

 My favorite subjects to shoot are always regular people and not "models." This was our friend Becky, not a model just a very interesting character. The great thing about Becky is that she looks like a hardcore punk chick and really she's a totally awesome sweet adorable nerd. People are like onions.

My g-pa and his beloved little airplane. He bought this right after he retired from being a 747 captain. The secret to this portrait for me was always the airplane. Doesn't it look happy? Like Thomas the tank engine. I could talk about how much he loves this plane but a picture is worth a thousand words.

This is Bella. Well actually her name is Jennifer. Jennifer Lopez. No really. She goes by Bella Vitale (I dunno why that's better, but she's great to work with. This is the face from the smoking lip shot in last week's post.

So there ya have it. I know I should have something way more awesome and interesting to say about all that, but I'm not profoundly sober right now. So deall with it! Thanks for reading. :-)   (Really:? smiley face? does anyone use those anymore? why not? they are so swanky)



  1. Love your work and your posts on photography. Why is it just because someone can afford a camera they are now a photographer?

  2. Great shots and interesting commentary. No apologies necessary.

    I actually got a real kick from the awkward boudoir shots from "very experienced" et. al. You should hurry up and claim that domain name actually. ""? Awesome, right? Way funnier than awkward family portraits.

  3. That is one of the best domain ideas I've ever heard! Aaaahahaha


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