Every photographer needs to have personal projects to spur creativity, learn new techniques and just combat the inertia of down time. The first group of images from our Visitors project can be viewed HERE on FaceBook and will be updated throughout the year. For those that don’t want to use FaceBook, here is a gallery link: Visitors
Social networking — staying in touch with friends or making new ones using electronic media — seems to be the theme of this decade. But what has happened to old fashioned, classic “visiting,” where people actually come to your house and talk face to face?
Because Gary and I work out of our home, we tend to get away to visit friends and don’t have as many visitors as we used to when our kids were growing up. So, earlier this year, Gary stumbled upon a way that he thought might change that.
The idea of taking portraits of each person that came to our house started with five children one day in February. We had arranged to take pictures of their Dad, who sometimes models for us. He and his wife left on a date while we spent time with their kids. During part of our time together, we did a photo shoot with each one, just for fun. We had such a great time that Gary suggested we invite more people to visit. He told me that taking their pictures might encourage him to be more social. I’m all for that.
It was a whim at first, but then we thought it would be worth trying. Would all our visitors be willing? Would anyone refuse? What new people would come over? How many pictures would we have at the end of a year? What story would this collection of portraits tell?
We’ve tried getting a portrait of everyone who has dropped by the house and shared even a brief conversation, including repairmen. So far, no one has turned us down, although a few have slipped by. Some visitors loved being in front of the camera. Others have felt more comfortable when we’ve suggested using props that tell something about them.
For various reasons, some of our very dear family and friends may not make the gallery. My mom, for example, came to see us two months before we started the project, but she doesn’t travel anymore. Some friends live in other states and won’t be visiting any time soon. Still others have come to our home, but Gary has been gone. He’s the one who takes the pictures.
Gary is a photographer with roots in journalism. We met as sophomores majoring in Communications at the University of South Florida and I hired him when I was editor of our college magazine. We’ve worked together on and off for most of our marriage. For the last 15 years though, we’ve made a living mostly by creating conceptual images in our small basement studio for the stock agency, Getty. We use the studio primarily to photograph objects, not people. I say “we” because I do much of the research and a lot of assisting.
It is said nowadays that anyone with a digital camera can take a good picture. While that may be true technically, I believe that a photographer, much like a writer, has a certain, distinct style, or visual “voice” so to speak. Because of our studio, Gary was limited to using a small space and a simple white background. He deliberately chose to take the portraits within those parameters. I, Vivian, wrote all the captions.
We are enjoying this project so much that we thought we’d share this “work in progress” with you. We will be adding new portraits often, so come back and check. Feel free to comment and give us your feedback and ideas.
If you would like to come visit, and have your portrait made for the gallery, just email Gary or me. Gary- firstname.lastname@example.org Vivian- email@example.com
Vivian and Gary