Fresh Faces 7

It’s been a late week surge in faces – but there have been some great ones this week. Not only at my usual stomping grounds but elsewhere around Boston. (Not that you’ll see many of them just yet, but trust me, they’re there.)

Here are a few I liked a lot:

I’m constantly curious about what people find appealing or attractive in a face. I have a hard time describing it myself but I know it when I see it. If anyone would care to share their opinions I”d be happy to hear from you.


Over the past ten years I’ve mostly had hair on my face. For nine years it was a full beard. Here’s a brief history of my beards:

This was the short version of my standard beard. I generally went with this as a summer look – but to be honest, I think it was too short.

This was the mid-length version and it was good for most situations. Not to scant, not too bushy – technically I suppose it was just right.

This was about as long as my beard ever got. Long was my favorite version but I was just about the only person that thought so. After more than nine years, I decided to surprise everyone by taking the whole thing off. This was how I looked when I first shaved:

The consensus was that I look younger without a beard. I guess that’s true. I was getting pretty grey.

Not content to leave well enough alone though I started growing new beards almost right away.

First just a standard goatee.

Then an absurdly thin mustache. (It lasted a few weeks but never did much for anyone.)

Next came the goatee and mustache with missing middle. Just a little bit of hair up around my mouth. I thought it was pretty cool – but again I was clearly in a minority.

Finally I had what might be the silliest beard ever. I was trying to imagine what facial hair might look like in the future and decided that the future was now! I wanted something subtle and understated but that would still stand out in the facial hair universe. This is what I came up with:

The comments were not favorable. Here’s just a few:

“I can’t even look at you like that.”
“I’m thinking prison movie . . .”
“It looks like you were doing an art project.”
“Is that the 13th step?”

Not being entirely a fool, I decided it was time to go back to square one so I shaved:

I’ll be starting a new one soon but have decided to give my friends – and my follicles – a break. Don’t worry though, there’ll be more in the future.

Fresh Faces 6

Last night I managed to get a ton of photographs. More than 100 when all was said and done. Of course I didn’t post all 100 or even process them; but I enjoyed taking them and going through to decide which ones to use.

Sometimes when I look at all the people I’ve met I realize how lucky I am to have started this whole project. I’ve gotten to take some great photos and have made some even better friends.

Color on the Web

I’ve noticed a few times that some of the pictures I take and work hard on look totally different – and often like crap – once they are in the browser. Some people go on about choosing the right color space for the Web while others talk about complex exporting and saving processes.

Here’s the bottom line – I want my images (which go from raw to dng and finally out for the Web as jpg using sRGB) to look more or less the same in most cases. And it’s really disappointing when they don’t. The blame rests solely on the browser developers. sRGB is a standard color space – so why do some browsers make such a mess? Here are four versions of the same image captured from four different browsers:









Of course how they look to me is going to be different to how they look to you – since you’ll be looking at them with your own browser which will impart its own interpretation of color onto them. Safari apparently does color management – and Firefox does with a plug-in but how many casual Web surfers are going to bother? Is it that hard to simply build this into the browser to begin with? Is the thinking that some people don’t want accurate color? Hmmm.

To me it’s like a browser that decided to remove any adverbs or adjectives from writing. Or maybe one that had a built in thesaurus and would substitute random words. It just wouldn’t be acceptable. So why is it acceptable to do the same with visual images?

A couple of requests. First, which browser (based on the above – and realizing you can’t see the original image) does the best job? Second, gripe a lot about this whenever you can. It’s really annoying.

Fresh Faces 5

I’ve had a few opportunities to photograph people over the past few days – not as many as I’d like to have had; and – to be honest – I missed plenty of chances. But life being what it is I’m glad for the shots that I did get and am happy to be able to share them. 1000 Faces 2 is at 99 – I’m making much faster progress than I did the first time around. Here are a few recent faces:

I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

Moving Nursery

Sing us a song to sleep
With the soft sweet sound
Of wheel on rail

Hum us your wonderful white noise
Heat in the winter; AC in the summer
Keep us warm or cool and comfortable

Let us rest on your welcoming red lap
Broad and comfortable and cozy even
Relaxing and drifting us off

Rock us gently to sleep
Sway like a mother with a babe on her hip
Until our eyes all flutter shut

Ride through towns and cities
Roll along roads and rivers
Take us gently into the land of dreams

Enough with the HD

The other day I was talking with a colleague about a video project we were working on. There’d been some technical discussions previously about equipment and whatnot – but now – less than two days before taping he told me they were thinking about doing the whole thing in HD.

HD? Why HD? I was going to shoot a few interviews at a conference – just talking heads. Would HD be doing *anyone* any favors? Certainly it isn’t going to be flattering for most people – and who wants to see every one of an other person’s flaws or blemish.

It may seem a bit disingenuous of me to be saying this – given my focus on faces – but there’s something different between the frozen moment of a photography and the incessant ubiquity of the face in video. The static face is an expression that can be explored while the moving face can’t be explored in the same way – only accepted.

Maureen Dowd wrote about this issue today, from a different point of view but the column’s points are excellent – and sad:

Don Malot, a top L.A. makeup artist who works with television and movie stars, says that high-def is turning Tinseltown topsy-turvy.

“People who thought they looked younger on camera than in real life see themselves in high-def and say, ‘Oh my God!’ ” he said. “We can’t use the heavy makeup that used to cover flaws like a drinker’s broken capillaries any more.”

He said that television actresses in their 40s and over are starting to insist that their contracts say they have to be shot slightly out of focus.

“It’s getting rarer to see tight shots of a woman’s face,” he said. “Now the camera guys shoot from the waist up.”

In a photograph, flaws and blemishes can convey personality and character – it isn’t the same with video. I think it’s because we have different expectations of perfection – expectations that are constantly being raised by new technology.

In the arms race between image and appearance you eventually run up against an unavoidable fact – people aren’t perfect. And no amount of anything is going to change that. So what can we do?

I think it’s worth saying “enough with the HD” sometimes. I do totally love HD in a lot of situations – but I don’t think it needs to be used all the time for every situation. It isn’t flattering and it doesn’t add value to storytelling – in fact, it can be a distraction or a detriment as you notice things you never had in the past; things you would have been happy to have been unaware of.

As HD technology continues to become less expensive we’ll continue to see more and more unflattering content being produced. Things can go one of two ways as this happens: first, we could become more accepting of the reality of people or two, we could have a shrinking pool of people that are considered attractive. I hope for the former but expect the later.

In the end, I ended up shooting in standard definition and I think everyone looked great.

Fresh Faces 4

Not a bad week for photographing people. But I am slow on processing the pictures so all of these are from the Chicken Bone on Wednesday. I’m really digging Lightroom 2 and have been enjoying figuring it out and putting it to work. A while ago – when I first started using it – I was not happy with the results. Now that I’m getting the hang of it I’m happy.

Nick My Skin

Small slights and little lies
Nick …. my …. skin
Doesn’t hurt when it happens
Only when I notice them
Then they start to weep or bleed

If I get enough of them
I’ll be cut to ribbons
My bones showing through
Sorry and exposed and sad
A fool and his pain on display

I wish could rewrap myself
In the tatters of my hide
And hide from the world
The truth of the lies
That touch and taunt
And hurt and haunt

Fresh Faces 3

My birthday is June 9th so I decided to have some people over this weekend. And people over means pictures. I ended up going out as well and so got photos in a couple of places – my house, the Chicken Bone and at a party. I managed to get some photos for 1000faces and others for People Together.

One of the things I’ve discovered in working on the 1000faces project is that my sense of attractive differs from that of many people I know. I’m constantly surprised by the photos I think will be really popular (and then aren’t) vs the ones I think are fine but then turn out to be super popular. I’ll be doing something around that soon I think. If you have a chance, I’d love to hear what you think is attractive.

Here are the photos: