Austin and the Power of Story in Portraiture (#281) 04-25-13

Here is a post, sort of like #279, that demonstrates portraits that do, and do not, imply story.

Walking along Venice Avenue, I spotted a couple half a block away. We would meet in an area of relatively harsh light, but I wanted to try to soften light with reflected walls (I think that the technical results are mixed).

Harry and Celeste seemed somewhat perplexed by my request, but did not reject it out of hand. They are visitors to the area, but from Port St. Lucie, FL, which is on the same latitude as Venice. So they were not from the frozen north seeking warmth. Harry recently started a new job, and vacations had to be limited to long weekends.

When I asked them not to smile for the camera..., well, you be the judge.

Obviously this is not what I was hoping for. While we were speaking, Celeste was not laughing or smiling. This look is for the camera only. Had I not spoke with them first, I think that I would recognize this just from the image. The looks in their eyes tell e nothing.

Now, on to Austin. On a different day, I sat on a bench close to where I met Harry and Celeste. I looked up just in time to see a young, happy looking fellow, walking right next to me. He nodded as he made eye contact. And in that instant, I wasn't ready. Rats! I don't like to chase someone down and approach them from behind, so I just accepted that I had blown a chance and resumed walking (in the opposite direction).

After about 20 minutes of 'making rounds', I saw two young men on a bench; one was Austin, the fellow I had missed. When fate seems to deal a good hand, I feel obligated to approch the person and go through with a portrait request. Both readily agreed and seemed genuinely interested in the project (the other man will be the subject of a future post.) Austin seemed to be in a very good mood. When I asked him to not smile for the camera, he said that he was just a happy guy and loved life.

In think that Austin is a just happy guy, and loves life. Comparing his photo to Celeste's, there is something in Austin's eyes that exudes authenticity. Do you agree?