I have a passion for the portrait. It's what drew me to photography. Oh sure, I had the fantasy of traveling to exotic and dangerous places to shoot for National Geographic, but then I also had the fantasy that I'd play outfield for the Yankees. But I didn't have a passport and I never hit above .200 anyway (even in '66, my best summer at the plate), so the opportunity to learn portrait photography's dark arts seemed like a better idea. After all these years, it still does.
For many years, the darkroom was my place of refuge, a place of quiet contemplation where small seeds of inspiration could take shape and grow. I no longer have one, and my Macbook Pro, nice tool that it is otherwise, can't provide the same environment. The studio stands in for it pretty well, however, and it's a place that is definitely good for the heart and soul. But here's the thing: I find that anyplace I am, with lovely light and a lovely subject, will put me in the same contemplative space, and the creative impulse is just as strong. Maybe even more.
This is why today's camera technology is so cool. The virtual world has no need for a big negative; this is mirrorless territory, even iPhone territory. My light little Fuji knows my mercurial moods and barely complains, and my iPhone is even more compliant. One or both is with me at all times, even if the perfect light isn't. But I'm forever searching for that beautiful north-facing window. After all these years, I'm making my best portraits nearby.
Photography is one of those lucky professions where you're actually rewarded for growing old. My knees may be worn but my eyes (as long as I'm wearing my glasses) are seeing light, color, shade, form, textures -- and beauty -- in entirely novel ways. There's no end to it, until the end.
But it does make me wonder what would have happened if I'd been batting over .300 in '66.