Two more photos of my friend, Charles, in his friend Henry’s garden.
Sometimes a portrait doesn’t even have to include the person it’s about. In this case, the design of the garden, including the whimsies and follies, speak volumes about the garden’s designer.
All taken with my Rolleiflex 2.8E, on Fuji Reala film. The film is easily 11 years out of date, but still produces excellent results. I wish I had a couple of bricks more of it in cold storage, but Fuji discontinued the emulsion in all but 35mm size a couple years ago.
Here are a few portraits of a friend of mine in his natural element. Charles is extremely fond of gardens and gardening, and this is one of his favorite gardens that belongs to a friend of his. I hadn’t seen him in several years, and so the other weekend I drove up to Baltimore to visit, and brought along the Rollei to shoot his portrait. I’m so glad I used some of my last remaining rolls of Fuji Reala – they did him justice. It was the least I could do to honor him as he’s been such a good and devoted friend over the years.
Here are a couple from my ongoing Food Truck series – the cashier and the head chef of Pepe, the Jose Andrés-helmed gourmet food truck here in DC. I THINK the young man giving the interview in the second photo may be Jose Andrés’ son.
The following two are shots of a friend of mine who is thinking of getting into modeling, so we did a couple test portfolio pieces out at Glen Echo a month ago. I think he’s got the face for it, for certain. The trick will be to figure out if he can move and pose, and if he can get his body conformed to modeling industry standards.
And last but not least, here’s one from the vaults of another very dear friend from Singapore. We went to Fort Canning and went up on the roof of the remnants of the fortifications to shoot some photos of him and some of his friends, and I grabbed this one between poses. It captures his personality absolutely, although he foreswears this photo now because he has quit smoking. But it still reflects his inner sparkle and cheek.
I’m trying to get better at photographing strangers, and photographing unposed portraits. I find it incredibly easy to photograph people I know well because I can perceive little gestures and nuances that reflect their personality. The trick will be to get better at that kind of perception with total strangers, without imposing preconceived notions of what I THINK they are on them. Perhaps it’s an impossible chase, but it’s one I’m going to hazard.
Here’s a photo of Tom Thumb and Lavinia Warren, NOT by Mathew Brady, Gurney & Sons, Eisenmann or C.D. Fredericks. I’ve seen a few by the other photographers, but the Brady ones are the most common. This is cool to me as it shows them being photographed in other cities as they toured – celebrity culture is not a new thing, but at least back in that day, technology largely excluded the possibility of ambush paparazzi.
Funny story about that though – back when the White House did not have a secure perimeter with heavily armed guards, one of Abraham Lincoln’s boys was out playing in the yard. An enterprising and rather self-assured photographer approached the boy and talked him in to sitting for some pictures, and then sent him inside to get his dad to pay. Needless to say, Mr. Lincoln was NOT happy about this, and came out to confront the photographer. The photographer consented to not charge Mr. Lincoln if he would sit for a few himself, which he grudgingly did. Try doing that to the first family today!
Mr. Lowande doesn’t look particularly happy to be having his picture taken. But that combination of tights and skirt not only look uncomfortable, I suspect wearing them outside the carnival tent would tend to challenge the masculinity of all but the most self-confident of men. This CDV is probably by D.J. Wilkes of Baltimore – although there is no identification on this card, the image is identical in all but pose (same outfit, same props) to another one I found online with the photographer’s imprint. I’m having a devil of a time finding more specific information about Mr. Lowande – most of the references I find for that name refer to an equestrian performer (that may be the same Tony Lowande, but I’m not sure), and the dates would seem to be later (that Tony Lowande was born in 1869 according to Olympians of the Sawdust Circle) and part of a famous family of Brazilian-American circus performers. Or it could be just that everything else about the photo aside from the name and photographer’s ID is wrong – Tony Lowande might just have been a five year old boy in this photo, and not a midget. I could also not find any reference to Siegrist’s Midgets, but that doesn’t mean anything per se.
Here’s a fun little trio of cartes-de-visite, showing the same sitter what looks to be covering a span of 20 or more years. In the first one, Mr. S.W. Phillips of Baltimore appears youthful. In the second one, the card-mounted tintype, a bit older, sporting a rather tall top hat. And in the third photo, a definitely older Mr. Phillips has lost not only his hat but his hair.
I had to fight to keep all three together – the image with the top hat was of much interest to other buyers. I was willing to go a little over what I’d wanted to spend to keep the set, as I thought it would be a real shame for the other two to get separated where they’d linger in someone’s $5 box, unloved, unwanted and without context. As an erstwhile photo historian, all too often these kinds of things get lost because someone removes the context for the sake of the value of a single item.
On a separate note, almost totally unrelated to the rest of this post, sometimes I wish I had enough info to start a Baltimore photo map like my New York, DC and Philadelphia maps. I’m certain that there were many photographers there in the 19th century, as Baltimore was a much more important city at that time and a major hub of commerce and industry. Perhaps this can be a start – the Edkins Gallery at 103 Baltimore Street. If anyone out there in blog-land has studio addresses for Baltimore Victorian photo parlors, I’d love to have them so I can start the map!