I met the nicest, just the greatest guy a few days ago: Ted Hilliard. He'll be big some day, so remember his name.
Like me, my siblings, and one of my kids, Ted Hillard attended Berkeley High School.
But, more importantly, more meaninfully, he had come to me, a veritable stranger, to create his portrait.
The purpose of the portrait was to put a face on the business-oriented company of which he is the founder and CEO, and which bears his name.
He purposely did not wear, or even bring, a tie. And, I noted, he wore a white T-shirt under his dress shirt. I felt that this fashion statement, the shirt showing underneath, at the collar, was an important part of his persona. It reflected his relationship to his times his age, his feelings about business.
Once the session is underway, the need to, in the end, present a photograph that is a public face is tempered by the relationship between the subject and myself. (or, vice versa - my desire to connect, to be honest, to let loose, is tempered by the result the client is seeking.)
As in every portrait session I do, How the subject (Ted) and I felt, how we related, how much he let me know who he was, and how comfortable I felt knowing him, became the subject of the portrait. All photographs of people, in my philosophy, are about relationship. The relationship that I have with the subject becomes part of the image. My ability to connect photographically (as opposed to personally, emotionally, or philosophically, for example) is what gives drive, meaning, presence and depth to the photograph.
I really know very little about Ted that I could verbalize. But photographically, we had a very solid yet limited relationship. That is why I feel connectd to these images and want to share them with you. We found a level at which we could connect honestly, where we felt comfortable, a place of mutual trust.
Compare this to the photo of Bill from Proclaim Promotions (whom I photographed standing next to his wide-format printer).
Clearly, in Bill's image, there is very little relationship between me and the subject. One reason is that Bill was not invested in the portrait. He had not hired me, he didn't know me from Adam, I was hired by and sent to him by another company. Under these circumstances, it is difficult for either of us to invest in the process of connecting.
Compare this to Ted, who knew of my reputation, had seen my website, and had been referred to a mutual friend. Even though we were strangers, we had permission to connect - he was invested in the image, in the process. And, it was my job, indeed, my pleasure, to form a connection, a relationship. I was hired to use my skill to relate to him in a visual, non-verbal way.
However, he hadn't come to me to have my photographic interpretation/impression/expression of who he was of how I felt about him.
Thus, this is a 110% successful image. It fulfils his needs, it's technically perfect, and it shows the maximum amount of connection that was appropriate for this type of commissioned work.
I woud love it if Ted would let me photograph his private side some day. If he does, I'll post the results.