Permanent Tourist

The personal website of Mark Howells-Mead

I wish you would let me take your portrait

I love taking portraits of people; whether I know them or not. I do it because of my passion for the image, not for financial gain, and I really wish more people would volunteer to let me photograph them. (Including you, your friend, your family or anyone you know.)

Here’s why.

I love taking photos. Plans for taking landscape views beckon whilst I sit in the office during the week and make me relax at the weekends. Photography always plays a part of trips away, although I find myself less keen to take standard views these days and concentrate on special memories or on unique situations. My real passion, though, is portraiture. Photos of people of all kinds; kids, couples, families, colleagues, friends and complete strangers. In the studio, in business surroundings or on location.

I have always been fascinated by the human face and form. Portraiture has always been my first photographic love. Many photographers try to capture a little of the character of a person, to show a little of their story or a part of their character. I go one step beyond this and take just as much pleasure in simply capturing the uniqueness of a face, or creating a scene and putting a person in the right position to create a visually striking and interesting image.

In this field, the most common problem for an amateur photographer – myself included – is finding subjects to photograph. My wife stands in for me regularly and the photos of her are, of course, a wonderful document of our life together. Strangers have volunteered for workshop days and I am forever grateful that they have helped make the courses so successful.

What I get from the photographs is different, according to who I am photographing and what my relationship is with them; if they are friends or family, I see the result in a completely different way to a picture of a stranger.

Studio days in 2010, organized through the Swiss Strobist group, enabled me to work out how to use the big lighting equipment and work with a group of volunteers to create some technically challenging people images.

Working with volunteers for the One Frame Movie series enabled me to get some portraits which I would not otherwise have achieved.

Both of these possibilities were opened to me by approaching people through online means; the Model Kartei website, where volunteers advertise for photographic work, as well as amongst people who know my photography through forums such as Flickr, Twitter and Facebook.

There is a point, though, where asking around amongst the people I know to try and find photographic subjects starts to become wearing. I feel guilty for asking those who have volunteered before to volunteer again, in case the requests become annoying to them. (I am wary of asking friends that I see rarely to pose for me, lest they think I only want to see them for photography.) It’s not about the volume of photographs either, but the variety of faces and scenes passing in front of my lens.

Many of my friends themselves are photographers, and are either reluctant to be photographed, or prefer to focus on finding their own models. Even offering free photoshoots seems to elicit little response, with people either declining to take part, or a variety of reasons leading to plans falling through. I have come to realise that photography plays a tiny part – if any part at all – in many peoples lives and that my passion for the image is rarely repeated in people outside the photographic world.

If you have read this far, then I hope you have some measure of interest in my photography. A project due for December, in which photographers put their talent to charitable use, is on my radar and I hope to take part. But between now and then, I want to continue to organize portrait sessions: free ones. I want to use the skills I’ve spent so much time and effort honing, and I want to give you, one of your family members or friends the chance to get a really good photograph of themselves. I hesitate before using the word “art” but my drive to create images is always there, waiting to be used.

Although the One Frame Movie series is complete, there is no reason for me to stop creating images in their style and to provide you with a unique image of yourself; anything from a costume-laden creation to a more standard, classic portrait.

So please: email me. I would love to add your face to my collection of portraits.

One Frame Movie

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