Sunday 25 May 2008

Is this a Portrait?

Morning Light, Copyright ⓒ 2008 Cate McRae; All Rights Reserved

This is an important picture to me at the moment, for that reason is on the index of my website (a better view at To me it is full of personal resonance, but has also a kind of classical look, which (if so) comes fortuitously as this was very literally a 'grab' shot. It's one of a growing number of 'accidentals' that I seem to be gathering along the way – when my purpose is focussed on something else – usually the landscape or smaller 'outside scapes' - and then turned to my youngest son.

I was taking pictures of landscape, and then looked to the right to see my son in this position. My heart leapt a bit, because the whole landscape (as well as seeing him within it), looked so lovely, in the early winter morning. I couldn't take a picture with the Mamiya without taking a giant leap 10 or 20 yard backwards, so I put down the camera, and picked up the FM3a at my feet, (the technical bit - using aperture-priority, manual 28mm nikkor lens & the film was Tri X) and got the picture before he moved – although aware of me - and there it is, a 'snap'.

The landscape I've known since I was young. So - is it a 'snap'? A self-portrait? Or a portrait? Or a landscape? Both? All? On my site I put it in the landscape section, but that was more a question of context than anything else. There's a lot of me in it, it could be seen it as a journey to my past and also my future there, with him. But that seems contrived, and seen in retrospect.

There's more in it of him – he had no direction from me but just at that moment his presence, his posture, the waves of grass, the landscape, my position with a camera and lens that could take it all in, all came together and I was lucky enough to be there. I like that he is looking straight at the camera. And he has known the land since he was born, he has his own claim on it. I love the way he always lies and rolls in it. That won't last for long.

In the end, although definitions can be useful, the impulse to define can become at best a blind alley - at worst an unnecessary obstacle- as for whether or where it fits, I really don't care.

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