What makes a good portrait picture? To me portrait photography is difficult and exciting at the same time. Difficult because your own work to a high degree depends on another person and the harmony between the photographer and the person portrayed has a great impact. Even if you master your technique perfectly and have the best equipment, you won’t be very successful when there’s not much chemistry between the photography and the model.
It’s exciting for the same reasons! 😉 But beyond that, I’m fascinated by how the atmosphere during the shooting and the state of the model can have an impact on the final result, by how many different facets a model has and by how personal a portrait shooting can actually be.
To me a really good portrait shooting is one where I get the feeling that I’ll get to know the person of whom I take a picture through and with the lens of my camera, that I feel emotions and at the end of the day I can capture the character and the uniqueness of this person in a picture.
For many years LensCulture has been organizing the annual LensCulture Portrait Award to find and award the most interesting portraits from all around the world. From all submissions an international jury selects six winners, eight jury favorites and 25 finalists who can be happy about the prizes and an audience of a million people.
This year’s winner in the category “Single Image” is not an unknown person. For many years I’ve been a fan of this particular photographer and have been following his work on Instagram. With his photo Zacheria and Clara, Chris de Bode has created an incredibly touching portrait. It was taken when he was in Mozambique to report on the dramatic situation of malnutrition with his camera. The Dutch photographer explains little Clara’s situation in his statement to the picture:
“Zacheria and Clara. I went to Mozambique to focus on malnutrition. Over a period of two weeks, we visited the Hospital Central malnutrition ward. I met Zacheria and his lovely daughter Clara, who is suffering from acute malnutrition. She is going through a very hard time. Not only is she very ill from malnourishment, she also broke her hip. They live far from the hospital. Zacheria is with Clara all the time. They spend every minute of the day together. It is wonderful to see the love between father and daughter.” © Chris de Bode. 1st Place, Singles, LensCulture Portrait Award 2017.
I fully support the jury’s decision. For me this portrait is a masterpiece as it expresses what I personally consider to be very important in portrait photography: It evokes emotions.
How do you feel about portrait photography? Have you ever tried it and if so, what do you find so fascinating about it?