This marks the first in a personal project that has been a long time coming. Kevin Lollar of Frederick City Housing Authority gracefully agreed to be my first vict..ermm..subject.
More about Kevin later, but first to explain the project. It is about simplicity, and leaving any kind of comfort zone. I am finding more and more often that the challenges faced on a shoot and in post processing are invariably complex, even scheduling the shoots themselves, many moving parts, planning, lighting design, load in of all the gear, set up, working with the subject and the client. It's great, truly, I love the feeling of being on my toes, of figuring the shot out and then delivering, culminating in seeing it in print.
But I found myself yearning for simplicity, where I started, making the whole time about connecting with another human being. Over the past few weeks the germination for the project came together, twisted and shaped. One light, one stand, a backdrop, camera and just a 50mm lens, after set up I have just five minutes to capture an image that evokes the person I'm photographing.
It is also about being out of my comfort zone, in so many ways. I have to approach the person I want to shoot, originally it was to photograph people I already knew, then a working title became "Corridors of Power" and finally just people that I or the community find of interest, of all walks of life, politics, race or creed. People I know, people I don't know. Hence "Persons of Interest" as title. As a confirmed, if not renowned introvert, approaching people is definitely an out of the comfort zone experience, even more so was my choice to shoot with a 50mm lens. Normally I take portraits with a medium telephoto, 105-135mm which means I am 6-10 feet away from the subject, somewhere I am very if not too comfortable being. With the 50mm I am 3 feet or less from the person, when I was shooting self portrait test shots for the lighting and distance I needed to be for the "look" I will admit I gulped. Then gulped again a the focus ring came beneath the 3' marker - it is one thing to laugh, joke, cajole or tell people to say naughty words from 8 feet away, another thing entirely when they are within arms reach.
The entire concept from the simplicity to being close makes the whole project about creating a portrait that is truly intimate, there is nowhere to hid for either the subject or myself, no worrying about any technical aspects of photography just a connection between us, and finally the viewer.
Kevin graciously agreed to be "the first". I photographed and met him for a magazine article a few month ago and was struck by a few things about him, among all a respect for not only what he does, but as a considered human being who chooses to let his actions rather than words speak for themselves. Firstly, he has a presence in is bearing, you know that he is in a room. In the time I have known him, he is clearly someone who "does" rather than talks, from his work at the property developments he oversees it is very clear he truly cares about the people he is involved with. From creating programs that suggest a different life path, to his endless patience to help people find a better life.