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Quiet confidence


Time for an update: I still use film, though. Not vast quantities, but I have a darkroom, and I'm not afraid to use it.

I enjoy every image I take: I hope you'll enjoy looking at them.
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Quiet confidence

13 Mar 2021 5:40AM   Views : 523 Unique : 352


Another episode of Portrait Artist of the Year on the video yesterday, and more thoughts about photographs: with a touch of concern on my part.

It was a semi-final from 2019, with nine painters working for four hours to portray Courtney Pine, jazz musician. He sat holding a well-worn saxophone he referred to as his girlfriend Ė can you refer to a musical instrument as Ďbrassedí in the same way as my Contax is? Whatever the term for a brass instrument with a thoroughly-foxed finish, it was, and he held it with a love and confidence that I understand very well. Much-loved and trusted.

His expression conveyed the same confidence Ė a man at ease with himself and his art, someone who knows that on his day, he is as good as anyone in the world at what he does. Not complacency, I felt, because there was an inner glow suggesting that he relishes every day, and he glows with gratitude for his talent. At the end, he said that it was the longest that heíd held the instrument without playing it. I can relate to all of that except the bit about being the best in the world!

A pianist once said that if he didnít practice for a day, he noticed: if he didnít practice for a week, his manager noticed: and if he didnít practice for a month, the audience would notice. Itís like that. You both want and need to go on doing what you do, and itís irrespective of whether you have an audience or a market, I think.


And hereís the unease: I believe that I have three genuine talents to compensate for my many, many imperfections. I was a really good audit manager, and could finesse good results from unpromising circumstances. I am sad to have retired. I can write half-decently Ė and thatís something that Iím doing more of at present, with this blog. And I have a minor ability for taking portrait and nude pictures, the latter usually as a sub-genre of the former, in many ways.

And Iíve not practised that art since early October last year. What I do best, I think, requires being face to face Ė it canít be done remotely, because the delays and loss of subtlety of a video call rob the situation of its immediacy: a camera on a tripod makes the tiny adjustment of angle and framing impossible. What if I canít do it any more when I start again in a couple or three months?

As we watched the painters, I said this to my wife. For nearly 42 years, the marriage deal has been that I donít ask her to carry cameras or tripods, and that when I take her picture I hurry up and get it over. The good news: sheís said that if Iím not bossy, sheíll be my model. I said sheís on, if she doesnít keep telling me to hurry up.


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dudler Avatar
dudler Plus
20 2.1k 2048 England
13 Mar 2021 5:41AM
That_Model_Jasmine at the top, EJ Spencer in the middle, and the reluctant Mrs D at the bottom, photographed at St Paul's Bay in Lindos, on Rhodes.
pablophotographer Avatar
pablophotographer 12 2.2k 450
13 Mar 2021 7:06AM
I think you have cut the best deal during Covid, dudler.
Mrserenesunrise Avatar
13 Mar 2021 8:40AM
I have no doubt that you will ďhave what it takesĒ when you start shooting models again John.

Muscle memory and all that. If in doubt pick a model that you have worked with many times before in a studio/location that you have used before and I look forward to seeing the results.

I canít wait to start shooting again, (when it is safe to do so) and have the confidence that I can resume where I left off.
Nothing like pride before a fall lol

dudler Avatar
dudler Plus
20 2.1k 2048 England
13 Mar 2021 10:09AM
Tim, I know it will probably be OK, and picking up in familiar surroundings with a favourite model makes sense. There's just that little worm of doubt...
BobinAus Avatar
BobinAus Plus
8 5 14 Australia
13 Mar 2021 10:31AM
I don't think you should worry too much, John. When one's passion and basic talent are still strong as they appear to be in your case, old skills will certainly return. That return may take a little while, however, and you may need to keep frustration in check while it does.

My experience for what it's worth: At very much a 'hobbyist' level, I've switched back and forth between photography and Audax cycling several times during the last 10 years or so. On each occasion that I've returned to either pursuit, I've been dull and rusty, even forgetting the basic controls of my 'favourite' camera or barely able to ride 100kms. But invariably within a couple of weeks, I've regained skills or strength, confidence and delight too. I hope the same will be true for you.


PaulCox Avatar
13 Mar 2021 11:04AM
I think that you will, pick up the camera, when that first return session starts, and it will be like you have never been away. I think a skill once learned is never completely forgotten. Paul.
dudler Avatar
dudler Plus
20 2.1k 2048 England
13 Mar 2021 11:05AM
Thank you, Bob!

There's a saying about journeys. A few, in fact. A single step features, as does the journey being more important than the destination...
saltireblue Avatar
saltireblue Plus
13 14.5k 89 Norway
13 Mar 2021 12:31PM

Quote:Tim, I know it will probably be OK, and picking up in familiar surroundings with a favourite model makes sense. There's just that little worm of doubt...

It is that tiny worm that will ensure that you will be extra motivated, concentrated and determined to make a success of the first encounter, John. After a very short while, instincts which have lain latent will take over subconsciously and before you know it, automatic mode will kick in.
dudler Avatar
dudler Plus
20 2.1k 2048 England
13 Mar 2021 1:19PM
Thanks, Paul, too: and Malc.

There are people who are motivated by stress, and others who work far better with less pressure - I'd be a disaster at the photographic equivalent of PAotY, but I might well finish in two hours flat without a time limit. Probably another spectrum superpower in there...
AltImages Avatar
AltImages 3 4
14 Mar 2021 2:19AM
You raise an interesting point about resuming John. What bothers me most is when I see the self-shot images by models who I shoot with from during the lockdown, where both the quality of their poses and the image/set styling leaves us photographers largely redundant! So it leaves me asking myself what is it that I need to do to 'reclaim' what I shoot with models as my own once we start to shoot on a one-to-one basis again. It's certainly made me reevaluate what/how/why I shoot. And I presume that all of our individual answers to this will be different.
dudler Avatar
dudler Plus
20 2.1k 2048 England
14 Mar 2021 10:57AM
Well... My immediate response is that we bring finesse in framing and focus, and avoid the distraction of the model having to be aware of everything from two directions.

And maybe the chemistry? The ability to set each other off in creative spirals?

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