Portraiture is a science unto itself: Control of light, posing the subject and post-processing. There is little room for error and so many photographers, in an effort to avoid problems, develop a recipe book of sorts: A set of guidelines for how to create the ideal portrait. We all know that some times of portraiture doesn’t have much creative application. There is only so much you can do with a corporate profile portrait. But a sad side effect of such a recipe book, if left uninspired, is stagnation. We don’t like stagnation because we’re artists. So when we find ourselves getting monotonous, we need to break the mold. One way to do that, even in your most formal sessions, is to learn a bit about your subject and try to incorporate their talents. That brings us to our latest feature, …As there is no pointe in asking for chocolate, from the creative mind of Eric Raeber.
Getting back to that recipe book concept…I don’t honestly think that’s a fair assessment of Eric’s body of work. His recipes might consist of light setups and general locations, but it probably stops there. I get the idea that his sessions are pretty personal otherwise. Browsing through his personal website and his portfolios, I don’t see any evidence contrary to my belief that he probably makes a personal connection with every single subject that he photographs. Beyond that, I see a lot of interesting collaborations with some exceptional art direction. I mean…he has a portrait featuring a guy with wine falling through the sky, a woman wrapped in nothing more than paper and a portrait that could have been inspired by Rene Magritte. But I digress.
As there is no point…, features Eric’s daughter, who is obviously quite skilled in Ballet (ever tried pointe technique?). Her technique aside for a moment, let’s talk about the context of the photo. There is a story here; my favorite kind of story: A simple story. It’s the story of a girl who would like some chocolate. Most should recognize the iconic packaging of Toblerone chocolate. A young girl reaching for chocolate is such a simple story. High in a cabinet like this only adds to the story. And it’s a nice setting with nice cabinets. That in and of itself would be a cool story-based portrait. But to kick it up a few notches to eleven, she’s on pointe complete with a leg lift. Even her head position, her chin, shoulders and her right arm – right down to her finger positioning – is spot on perfect form. In fact, the only thing breaking form at all is her left hand, which is grabbing the Toblerone. The only thing that makes this at all surreal is the fact that we would never expect to find anyone – even a formally trianed dancer – to go on pointe (in perfect form, no less) just to get chocolate. Imagine being witness to this scene without the presence of a camera, an art director or a photographer. It would be bizarre. But that is the reason this photo is so incredibly perfect. This is art.
This is truly art.
Collaborative efforts are truly the most incredible when it comes to portraiture. Eric is ultimately the photographer and I suspect the final call when it comes to the art direction of the photograph. But we cannot discount the model, his daughter in this case, for her efforts. In the best portraits, the model contributes quite a bit. The best photographers realize this and use it to the advantage.
For fear of beating a dead horse, I would like to formally state that I truly find a great deal of talent, skill and artistic vision in the mind and work of Eric Raeber. The photograph I featured here today doesn’t even begin to illustrate the creativity that this man is capable of. For a better understanding, you should really visit his website, EricRaeber.com. Of course if you’re on Google+, you should circle him.