A blog about my photography and writing projects.

Thoughts about Portrait Poems

Lately my focus has been on working with a subject to create spontaneous portraits in writing. These are one page poems I type on a manual typewriter on a single page, after meeting a stranger for the first time, and after asking 3-5 questions.

There is a central idea to my work that boils down to to the fact that we all need a witness; we all want to be seen. We are wired to crave connection and validation from each other, and we are also wired to give it. Sometimes social rules and other baggage restrict that process -- especially with those close to us. But two strangers can connect in extraordinary ways given the right conditions.

I'm drawn to portraits in both photography and writing. I'm interested in how much we want to be seen and validated, how deeply someone can open up in just a few questions, and how poetry with its dense and layered language can compress an immense amount of information and insights on a person into a very small space, if you allow your unconscious mind to do much of the processing.

A lot people leave my studio crying. And most subjects end up hugging me before they leave. Those are usually signs that we have gotten somewhere together, artist and subject. We have created a document that is important, is now sacred to the subject, that says something true about the subject that needed or wanted be said.