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Faces: The Creative Process Behind Great Portraits Paperback – 27 Sep 2001
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"She can look at a person and she knows, instinctively, straight away, who they are" Bjork
About the Author
Jane Bown has worked as a portrait photographer for the Observer for over 45 years. Her previous books include The Gentle Eye, Men of Consequence and Women of Consequence. This is her first practical photography book. She lives in London and Sussex.
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Photographer extrodinaire, her talent is evident on each page and, when we read the brief descriptions of how each picture was taken, it is even more amazing. Some were taken with only a few minutes of time allocated and in very difficult locations.
The black and white pictures, taken mostly in natural light, reveal subjects relaxed and comfortable. As we look at them, we see more than just a face, but not as voyeurs. There is no unwanted exposure, just intimacy and trust between subject and photographer.
Subjects range from John Lennon and Paul McCartney to Mother Theresa via Richard Burton, Noel Coward and Orson Welles. John Betjeman's laugh is a masterpiece and a pensive Eartha Kitt is moving. There is nothing intrusive, but we can feel a personal empathy with them, thoughtful, contemplative, laughing, dreaming or, sometimes, smiling.
We see familiar people in a different light and learn a little more about them. This is a book that I shall return to frequently, certain to find something new each time.
Besides being an example to all those practising the art of portrait photography, this is definitely a book for the culturally interested reader of contemporary history. The personalities of many of the persons who have put their stamps on this period are subtly revealed to us by Jane Bown, and the book may thus be a supplement to any historical text and broaden our understanding of our own time.
After reading the book, I felt my portraits actually got better...
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