What inspires me? The human face inspires me.
Wherever I am, on the street, in the mall, I look at people and think about how I’d photograph them. What are their best features? How would I light and pose them to bring out those features artistically? I look for the expressions that seem to exemplify that person, and think about how I’d bring that out in the portrait. It’s never boring. Every human face is an artistic challenge and pleasure. I love photographing people.
My primary interest has always been people. I don’t have much interest in landscapes or still life. But people hold my attention.
I actually started early painting portraits, only dabbling with a camera at first. Then I began using photography as a foundation for my painting. I discovered, though, that I preferred photography as a superior form of portraiture.
You see, a painted portrait may be totally from the imagination of the painter. You’ve seen paintings of characters the artist has never seen, such as angels. A painting may be totally imaginary. But when you look at a photographic portrait, even though it may be heavily retouched, you still have the feeling that you’re looking at a living, breathing human being, a real person–not the imagination of the artist.
When talking about my work with my clients, they will usually hear me speaking of their “portraits” rather than “pictures.”
I take my artistic inspiration from the great portrait artists of the past, and like them I’m always working toward that singularly ideal portrait that captures the best of the individual. When I’m working with a client, I will “sketch” with my camera the way a painter sketches small images. I’m studying dozens of variations, seeking the best expression from the eyes, the best position of the hands, the best curve of the lips.
After the camera work is done, I will spend even more time–days– perfecting the image until the portrait I see before me is the portrait I saw in my mind. Then I will show only the very best.
I’m never looking for the latest trendy thing, because trends become dated and stale. I look for what will be beautiful and desirable ten years, or twenty, or one hundred years from now.
Lord & Darling Portraits was spotlighted in Professional Photographer magazine. Read what their article “Family Values” had to say about Kirk Darling.