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Portrait photography is often a dialog between the outward physical appearance of a subject and their inner, invisible qualities. The success of a strong portrait transcends the merely visual. In the photographs of “Life: Frame By Frame” the artists use various strategies in engaging with their subject matter to develop and expose the deeper and individual qualities of the sitters. They work to reveal an inner drama and to bring the two dimensional limitation of the photographic paper into a dynamic and active statement. The photographers in this exhibition are too numerous to write about in total – so we will concentrate on a few of them.

In the large pigment prints of Joyce Tenneson the subjects share an inner light and often have a magical or mysterious presence. She writes, “My camera is a witness. It holds a light up for my subjects to help them feel their own essence and givens them the courage to collaborate in recording these revelations.” These studies have atmospheric, soft-focused backgrounds that envelop the subjects.

Herb Ritts portrait style is graphically strong with clean lines and an assertive style. His portraits magnify the desirable and elusive qualities of the sitters. The subjects are generally presented full frame, dramatically composed and made to appear either spontaneous, or in a classic, sculptural manner. Focus is tight, perfectly defined, and dynamic.

Harry Benson has had an illustrious 60 year career in which he has had the uncanny ability to be at the right place at the right time. In his work he stresses that his pictures capture a moment in time that is fleeting and never to be repeated. His photographs acquire a transcendent quality. They have a life and vitality because they are generally not staged. The final photographs are a product of the energy and inner qualities of the subject matched with Mr. Benson’s skill in capturing the moment.

Albert Watson's approach to portraiture is less spontaneous and more studied. He is a master at sizing up the sitter and finding ways to amplify their character. The images are sure handed and seduce us into believing that we have a special access to the subject. They often use creative cinematic devises that play with creative framing, multiple exposure, and dramatic staging.

“Life: Frame By Frame” is meant to be an intriguing introduction into how great photographers approach portraiture. A picture only moves us and takes on a power if it takes us out of our every day experience and transcends time and space. This exhibition is a collection of pictures that leave lasting impressions and engage our senses and intellect.

by Holden Luntz