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Entries in portrait photography (5)


The Dude Abides on the Other Side of the Lens

Written by James Estrin, Shared via The New York Times Lens Blog

© Jeff Bridges - A self-portrait on the set of "True Grit."

Some photographers are drawn to dramatic events in exotic lands. Others are compelled to stay closer to home and burrow into the stories they know best.

The actor Jeff Bridges gets to do both. He photographs the world he grew up in, movie sets — each one a world never seen before. And he earns a little more than your average photographer while doing it.

Since 1984, Mr. Bridges has documented the sets of most of his movies, compiling a large collection of wide images that give an intimate, behind-the-scenes look at movie making.

“My photography is mainly focused on my work making movies, which I’ve done my whole life,” he said in a phone interview. “I think I have a perspective that not many people have. And I get to take advantage of all of the strange sources of light on a set.”

Though Mr. Bridges is better known for his acting roles — The Dude in “The Big Lebowski,” Rooster Cogburn in “True Grit,” Kevin Flynn in the Tron movies — he will receive special recognition tomorrow at the International Center of Photography’s Infinity Awards dinner in New York.

This is not the first time Mr. Bridges has been honored: he has been nominated for six Academy Awards and received an Oscar for Best Actor for his performance as Otis Blake in the 2009 film “Crazy Heart.” But he says it is “wonderful to be recognized by people who love photography.”

Mr. Bridges uses a Widelux camera for almost all of his photos because he says its ultrawide images are close to how the human eye really sees. It’s a quirky camera that allows photographers to emphasize both foreground and background. In the introduction to his book “Pictures,” published in 2003, Mr. Bridges wrote about his favorite camera:

The Widelux is a fickle mistress; its viewfinder isn’t accurate, and there’s no manual focus, so it has an arbitrariness to it, a capricious quality. I like that. It’s something I aspire to in all my work — a lack of preciousness that makes things more human and honest, a willingness to receive what’s there in the moment and to let go of the result. Getting out of the way seems to be one of the main tasks for me as an artist.

The Widelux has a lens mounted on a moving turret. As the lens moves, a slit shutter sweeps across a wide plane of film, creating a sometimes blurry cinematic effect. It can take two and a half seconds for a normal exposure (at one-fifteenth of a second). This gives the photographer less control of the result, because when one starts taking a picture, it is hard to know exactly what will happen two seconds in the future on the far side of the frame.

“I look at the camera as sort of a missing link between motion picture photography and still photography,” Mr. Bridges said.

© Jeff Bridges - Top, Maggie Gyllenhaal: “Tragoedia/Comoedia,” on the set of “Crazy Heart.” Bottom, Matt Damon: “Tragoedia/Comoedia,” on the set of “True Grit.”
Photography is different from movie making because it is more of a solitary endeavor, even when one is photographing a lot of people. But in both disciplines, the product doesn’t always turn out as expected.

“You show up, you practice, you have as much technique that you can bring, and then the reality has much to give to the experience,” Mr. Bridges said. “That’s what makes it such a joy to look at the contact sheets. You see what you thought you had and you did, and what you didn’t think you had and you got, and that’s very similar to making movies.”

Mr. Bridges has acted professionally since he was a young child, when he appeared with his father, Lloyd Bridges, star of the television series “Sea Hunt,” on that show. While attending high school in Los Angeles in the late 1960s, he built a home darkroom in a bathroom and fell in love with black-and-white printing. As his acting career took off, he left photography behind — until he appeared in the 1976 remake of “King Kong,” in which he played an paleontologist who always carried a camera. That rekindled his interest, and after his wife bought him a Widelux, he brought it to the set of “Starman” in 1984.

His co-star Karen Allen suggested they make a book of photos for the cast, and for almost every film he has been in since then, Mr. Bridges has made a special, limited-edition book for the cast and crew.

His purchasable collection, “Pictures,” was published by PowerHouse Books, and he donates the proceeds — including from sales of individual prints — to the Motion Picture and Television Fund and several organizations that fight hunger in the United States.

At times, his photographs form a visually refined family album that includes his father; his brother, the actor Beau Bridges; and his fellow actors. They provide a behind-the-scenes view of movie making and sometimes resemble early silent slapstick shorts more than they do fine art films.

Mr. Bridges revels in using the Widelux’s long exposure time to take in-camera photos of his acting friends (Slide 12 and above) making comedic and tragic faces. During a single exposure, they run from one end of the frame to the other and pose goofily for the camera.

He wants to publish a book of his newer images and intends to continue photographing the sets of his movies.

So, Mr. Bridges will abide. You can take comfort in that.

© Jeff Bridges - Sam Elliott and Jeff Bridges: “The Stranger” and “The Dude” on the set of “The Big Lebowski.”
To view the article in its original form, click here.


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Video Pick: Photo Tips for Dramatic Portraits

Fashion portrait of model Eliza Lugo by Lorenzo Pickett

I'm always looking for photographers who use simple home setups to showcase their techniques to our students, and I found a great video from Lorenzo Pickett, whose amazing model Eliza Lugo helped to create some wonderful fashion portraits in color and black and white. In our featured video, Lorenzo walks you through his complete setup and discusses lighting, make-up, and his camera lens and settings. The end results have gathered good attention, too - congratulations, Lorenzo! Visit his website for more information.



We're the New York Institute of Photographya distance education school teaching photography since 1910 - over 100 years of knowledge and experience. Listen to the following podcast to learn more about who we are and what we do.




3 Photographers, 3 Black-and-White Portraits

Black-and-white images are arresting and timeless. Both contemporary and older b&w images have a timeless quality, and they immortalize faces, expressions, and personalities. I've selected a few portraits that particularly spoke to me, each by a gifted photographer.

Photo by Chim (David Seymour)
David Seymour began taking portraits of children orphaned during World War II, as in the above example of a little girl scribbling on a chalkboard. Her haunting, mature look gives us a window into her soul. Seymour, known by his pseudonym Chim, went on to take celebrity portraits.
Photo by Weegee (Arthur Fellig), 1960, "Marilyn Monroe"
Arthur Fellig, known professionally as Weegee, was a scrappy street photographer who captured many crime scenes, general street scenes, and celebrity portraits. The above photo of Marilyn Monroe was shot using an elastic lens which distorted her features, a technique he used on different occasions with his celebrity portraits. His technique emphasized Marilyn's playful personality, and turned her classic beauty into the zaniness of a funhouse mirror reflection. 
Photo by Robert Capa, 1936, Barcelona boy, Spanish Civil War
Robert Capa was a photojournalist who documented numerous wars, and sadly lost his life in 1954 in Indochina while on assignment, stepping on a landmine when he got out of his Jeep to get a better shot of the advance of French troops. He had made this earlier comment: "This war is like an actress who is getting old. It is less and less photogenic and more and more dangerous." Capa's 1936 portrait of a boy during the Spanish Civil War captures the innocence of childhood, forever changed by the harsh realities of wartime.

We're the New York Institute of Photographya distance education school teaching photography since 1910 - over 100 years of knowledge and experience. Listen to the following podcast to learn more about who we are and what we do.




Student Success: David Michael Kennedy 

David Michael Kennedy (born August 16, 1950) is an American photographer and one of the many esteemed NYIP graduates to have gone on to do great things. Perhaps David himself summarized his storied career as a photographer best on his website: "Working in New York in the 1970s and 80s, I developed a successful career in advertising, editorial, album cover, and portrait photography. In 1986, leaving my commercial career behind to concentrate solely on my personal work, I moved to northern New Mexico where I began documenting the land and cultures of the southwest. In March 2004 I departed New Mexico on a two year journey through America. I traveled over 70,000 miles, in a vintage 1960 Airstream Trailer, photographing the American people and diverse landscapes. I have now returned to New Mexico and am immersed in the production of Images from the Road and in the beginning stages of other new works. I work within the realm of analogue processes. After working with various format cameras over the years, I chose to use a homemade 4x5 camera for the body of work, Images from the Road. Recently I have put aside my 4x5 camera as I am redefining my vision through revisiting the square format with a Hasselblad. I continue to teach private landscape, portrait and platinum/palladium darkroom workshops." 

In a career spanning almost 40 years, David has won numerous photography awards, including, Clio AwardsNY Art Director’s Club Annual Exhibition AwardsCommunication Arts Awards of Excellence, Art Direction Magazine Awards of Distinction, and Platinum Records for album covers of Georgia Satellites, Julian Lennon, and Charles Daniels. His work has been shown in exhibitions around the world, including in my home county of Westchester, NY, and he has worked with such influential artists as Bob Dylan, Muddy Waters, and Bruce Springsteen (pictured below).    

I have included some of my favorite images below. To learn/see more, go to his website at Enjoy.  

Don King N.Y.C. November 1983: 15 x 15 inch, Palladium Print, edition of 20, November 1983
Along the Goodnight Loving Trail: 15 1/2 x 15 1/2, Palladium Print, edition of 30, April 1997Iggy Pop: 19 5/8 x 20 1/16, edition of 30, Palladium Print, August 1986Bed Gordon Nebraska: 11x14, Palladium Print, November 2, 2004Bruce Springsteen: Nebraska publicity picture, 1982

We're the New York Institute of Photographya distance education school teaching photography since 1910 - over 100 years of knowledge and experience. Listen to the following podcast to learn more about who we are and what we do.






Whose Portrait Do You Wish You Could Take (dead or alive)?

That’s the question we asked our Facebook fans last week. What we got back was over 200 responses. We were so thrilled with the answers the quality and quantity of answers that we got back that we just had to share them with you here. Read through the responses and add your own in the comments below!


Annastasia McPherson - Marilyn Monroe!

Tiffany Peterson - Ummm. Alive.

Lisa Jacques Jones - Abraham Lincoln

JoJo Stone - Adam Lambert

Amber Roseberry - My son who was stillborn and Abe Lincoln

Andy Dinocola - my pops

Cristal Rodriguez - Marilyn Monroe

Kenneth Hines Jr - Aaliyah

Terry Julien - Ansel Adams

Gerry Knightwynd - jesus

Valeriana Przekozaq - Krzysztof Kieślowski

Michele-Anne Hamilton - Everybody! :-)

Trina Sledge - My grandparents missed dearly

Tina Leach-Williams - Andy Warhol. But mostly I'd just love to get shots of The Factory.

Tiffany Peterson - Ooops misread. Lol. Ronald Regan.

Jessica Meaut - Marilyn Monroe!

Click to read more ...