For the past year I have been working on a project called Los Angeles Artists, abbreviated - LA Artist. The project began after I photographed my uncle, Charles Garabedian. The prestigious gallery LA Louver represents Charles, and at 87 he is well established not only in Los Angeles but internationally as well. He was the perfect initial subject because it was easier to get other artists to agree to participate once I had him in my portfolio.
Different than other portrait sessions with a creative it is always a learning experience. I’ve become fascinated listening to artists discuss what motivates them and the various processes they use to produce their work.
A good artist portrait is a challenge because it mustn’t be overly literal, yet the image should hopefully exhibit something about the artist and his work or method. Though some of my photos have the artists near or next to their work, I desperately work the juxtaposition of the two with the desire to make portrait that is neither obvious or cliché.
There are many factors that either make it easier or more difficult to create a good portrait. The space and light in the artist’s studio can either be an aid or hindrance. Most studios have good light, so that more often than not is an asset. However, as best I can, and it’s extremely difficult to refrain from the tried and true, I avoid the typical available light environmental portrait. Rather I’m pursuing a more conceptual interpretational portrait. I.e. in addition to working with the environment, I’m using my own lights and ideas combined with the artists’ tools and work to create a more conceptual portrait. My goal is to make a portrait that isn’t so literal, but does have some sort of narrative.
Below beginning with my uncle are four examples of artists in which their work isn’t explicit, yet the image provides a glimpse and a narrative into who they and their work represents.