By Eliza Miller
Portrait photography is one of the most delicate forms of art and requires a steady hand and a healthy portion of artist’s intuition to produce the most memorable images.
Identifying and capturing moments of truth can allow photographers to create enduring works of art that speak to the viewer and provide insights into the human condition. Photographers who can achieve this degree of subtlety in their portrait work often enjoy success in the art gallery environment and may find themselves in demand for sessions with celebrity clients and patrons of the arts.
Natsumi Hayashi, Karla Read and Stephen Finfer represent three different styles of portrait photography and provide an inside look at this most personal form of art.
While many critics would fail to classify the works of Natsumi Hayashi as portraits, the deliberate inclusion of this artist in her photographic works makes them unique self-portraits that reflect some inner reality. Natsumi Hayashi first came to the attention of the global art scene in 2011 with her surrealistic photographs of levitation and flying. No editing or Photoshop touch-ups were responsible for these visual effects. Rather, Hayashi employed high-speed photography and physical effort to capture these images of herself in various stages of floating or flying. Her works have been displayed at the Spiral Garden in Tokyo and offer a whimsical look at everyday places and activities. Hayashi herself described the liberating impact of her self-portraits, stating, “In being free of gravity in the photographs, I am also not bound to societal conventions. I feel as though I am not tied to many things and able to be my true self.”
Since her arrival on the art scene in 2008, Karla Read has been a force to be reckoned with in the field of photography. After graduating from high school, Read moved from her hometown of Santo Domingo to Buenos Aires to begin creating an extensive portfolio of work that includes numerous portraits of women at various stages of their lives. Most of her models are younger women. Read portrays the angst and uncertainties of young womanhood in muted shades and filtered black and white images. Read’s portraits are hauntingly personal and offer a glimpse inside the soul of the artist as well as her photographic subjects.
Playful poses and whimsical portrayals of unguarded moments are characteristic of the portraits created by Los Angeles photographer Stephen Finfer. Known for his candid and arranged photographs of famous musicians and celebrities in the L.A. area, Finfer creates a warm and comfortable atmosphere for his subjects and captures moments that other photographers might miss. One secret to Finfer’s success is his practice of transferring rights to his photographs directly to his celebrity subjects, allowing them to control the distribution and to choose which photographs to release in the public arena. This allows photographic subjects to relax and open up for the camera with greater intimacy and immediacy.
These three elite photographers have already had a significant impact on the modern art photography world. Their unique artistic visions are likely to influence portrait photography for many years to come.