Visitors-the First 100
Social networking -- staying in touch with friends or making new ones using electronic media -- seems to be the theme of this decade. But what has happened to old fashioned, classic “visiting,” where people actually come to your house and talk face to face?
Because Gary and I work from home and regard it as our work place, we don't have as many visitors as we used to when our kids were growing up. Early in 2009, we stumbled upon the idea of taking portraits of each person that came to our house. It all started with five children. We sometimes take pictures of their Dad, who models for us. He and his wife left on a date while we spent time with their kids.
During part of our time together, we did a photo shoot with each one, just for fun. We had such a great time that Gary suggested we invite more people to visit. It was a whim at first, but then we thought it would be worth trying. Would all our visitors be willing? Would anyone refuse? What new people would come over? How many pictures would we have at the end of a year? What story would this collection of portraits tell?
We’ve tried getting a portrait of everyone who has dropped by the house and shared even a brief conversation, including repairmen. So far, no one has turned us down, although a few have slipped by. Some visitors have loved being in front of the camera. Others have felt more comfortable when we’ve suggested using props that tell something about them.
Gary is a photographer with roots in journalism. We met as sophomores majoring in Communications at the University of South Florida and I hired him when I was editor of our college magazine. We’ve worked together on and off for most of our marriage. For the last 15 years though, we’ve made a living mostly by creating conceptual images in our small basement studio for the stock agency, Getty. We use the studio primarily to photograph objects, not people. I say “we” because I do much of the research and a lot of assisting.
It is said nowadays that anyone with a digital camera can take a good picture. While that may be true technically, I believe that a photographer, much like a writer, has a certain, distinct style, or visual “voice” so to speak. Because of our studio, Gary was limited to using a small space and a simple white background. He deliberately chose to take the portraits within those parameters. I, Vivian, wrote all the captions.
All photos and text ©Copyright Gary S. and Vivian Chapman 2010