Artist Statement
“The Great Equalizer”

I did not invent this idea of photographing people wearing black against a black background, but like a lot of art, I took the initial idea and greatly expanded upon it and in the end I made it my own.
During the photography sessions, I tried not to make it personal. I did not encourage or discourage any action or expression. I told the people in front of my camera I wanted this portrait to be about them not me telling them how to act, smile, or even look. Occasionally I made suggestions as to which direction to look for the sake of variety but I did not say smile, frown, or project any certain mood for the pictures other than what they wanted to show. People are brainwashed when it comes to having their portraits made. They need to have the person behind the camera tell them to smile, look right etc. all the while reassuring them how well it is going. My goal was to make portraits of people that were candid and spontaneously or at least as spontaneously as you can be in a studio situation.
I photographed 189 different people over four months varying in age from one to seventy-five years old all wearing a black turtleneck shirt against a black background
I went to an art fair and set up a photo studio. The Museum of South Texas invited me to set up for two days and continue the project. I came away with a cross-section of people living and visiting Corpus Christi, Texas.
When I started looking at the images on my computer screen one after the other I started to realize there was something interesting happening.
After I laid out the first fifty printed photographs all 8”x10” in size side by side in a grid it became obvious. I had 50 different personalities in a time capsule. Unlike traditional portraits, these portraits do not revel where anybody was at a certain time. There is no time or place. The time will always be now and the place here. The black turtleneck is the “Great Equalizer” in that everybody is at the same place at the same time so to speak. I starred at this grid of pictures and came away a feeling of familiarity. Some people I was acquainted with, but most were unknown to me. There was something in the way this group gave of themselves so willing that was fascinating. The fact that the portraits were free was probably an influence, but most people wanted to be part of this experiment in portraiture.
Without familiar clothes or other possessions to distract us it becomes mandatory that we look at the faces and notice the different expressions of each person. Viewers can stare and count hairs and wrinkles if they want. However, on further gaze, you begin to notice other things about each person you go beyond the surface. You start to speculate about the person you are looking at and wonder what they were thinking at that moment the camera’s shutter forever encapsulated them in pixels. By concentrating on the facial expression and their body language, you create an insight into their personalities a back-story, if you will.
In conclusion, we all have many different things that make us unique and I have summarized a small part of the originality of 189 people I met and photographed during four months in 2009.

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