This section is for portraits I have done of people, sometimes at their behest, sometimes for a competition or other specific purpose and sometimes because I've thought that they had a photogenic face.

Some were shot in a studio, some in a semi-controlled exterior location and some were done in a freehand, candid style. Sometimes a particular location suggested a particular person or style or mode of dress and at other times it went the other way – the subject came first and then it was a matter of deciding whether to shoot in the studio or outdoors and if the latter, where and, even more essential for the all-important light, when.

I thank them again for letting me point a lens at them and I hope you enjoy the results of our collaborative efforts, because it is always a two-way process and you never quite know what you are going to end up with, no matter how strong an idea or image I may have had in my head before we began.

Izumi calls it the Serendipity Factor, and has quite a bit to say about it in her Diary, especially on pages 35 and 44.

Mai and Tien
Nhi and the Stairway to Heaven

Australia seems to have more competitions and exhibitions of portraiture per head of population (yes, I know - ha ha) than any other country. This must be A Good Thing, as Pooh would say. They range from the venerable Archibald at the top, through the National Portrait Gallery Portrait Prize; Head On; the Moran Portrait Prize; the Salon des Refusées; the larrikin ones like the Bald Archies; specific ones like Shoot the Chef and down to local gallery and council ones, some regular and some not. And there are always amazing examples of portraiture created by HSC students and exhibited at Art Express at the Art Gallery of New South Wales (until April 22, free entry, go!) each year. A quick Google search will get you the current photographic ones.

The three images above were entered in the 2012 National Portrait Gallery competition, but not selected for hanging. However thanks to the Internet and websites like this one, they can enjoy a wider audience than they would have only a few years ago. Technology can be beneficial at times.

Wes at Bermagui
Mai & Lap
Tien in the Rain

Rặng liễu đìu hiu đứng chịu tang,
Tóc buồn buông xuống lệ ngàn hàng.
Đây mùa thu, tới mùa thu tới
Với áo mơ phai dệt lá vàng

                              Xuân Diệu, 1938


Nhi in Autumn I
Nhi in Autumn II
Rosie in Industria I
Rosie in Industria II

Locations can complement or contrast with the subject. It's sort of a gut feeling (creative inspiration?) and can't really be explained in rational words, as long as the finished image works in some way.

These ones of Rosie are perfect examples, I think. Some viewers may like them, some not. It doesn't matter. Differences of opinion are why we have elections and horse races.

And yes, I did use Izumi's Serendipity location, but for a different purpose so it's all right and we still have civilised cups of tea together.

Rosie in Industria IV
Rosie in Industria III

As you can see, not all portraits need to be formal, nor taken in a studio with controllable lighting. You can have still portraits and action portraits, slow portraits and fast portraits, solo portraits and multiple portraits, horizontal portraits and vertical portraits. As long as the light is interesting, the location suits the subject and there is an empathy between the photographer and the photographee, the results can be satisfying and enjoyed by all.

Then we could go on about portraits vs candid photographs and whether the subject has to know they're being photographed before it becomes a portrait. I think they do. It's open to argument (in a suitable location of course) but I think two aspects that make a portrait such are that the subject is aware they are being photographed for a portrait, rather than just as someone in the street and that there is a degree of direction involved, no matter how minimal.

Izumi always enjoys a robust discussion about different aspects of photography (it must be all those cups of tea) so perhaps it's a good thing she's not into portraits – yet anyway.

And you'll note that I don't subscribe to the current silliness of calling vertical images 'portrait' and horizontal images 'landscape', as if photographs of people have to be upright and landforms lying down.

So if one day somebody asks if they can do some portraits of you, even if they stop you in the street or a gallery or the supermarket, and you satisfy yourself that they are genuine, then do it. It could turn into one of life's little adventures and you'll be glad you took part.

This collection will be added to from time to time so please drop by and see who is gracing the page. You never know, it may be you.