Happy Retirement, Dad (and some notes on portraiture)

Alhamdulillah, my dad was able to retire last fall, and by all accounts he’s (mostly) enjoying retirement these days. I met up with him on his last day and took him out to lunch at the restaurant of his choice: a Dickey’s Barbeque (which you can see painted on the window in the background: good, maybe).  But what did he/we have? Was that light really growing out of his head like My Favorite Martian or something? Was he really making the duckface, or trying to look like one of those Instagram Influencers? Did I really need to include the guy shoving food into his face in the background?

So imagine: slide to the left a foot or so, turn the camera to portrait orientation, give Alex a chance to smile or give whatever expression he wants to (or maybe tell him to “look like you just retired!”)… include his plate of barbecued meats, exclude the fellow diner in the background, and stop the antenna growing out of his head, while probably keeping enough of the Dickey’s window visible to indicate where we were. Might that be a bit better?

I’d like to think a bit more about what I’m shooting and about composition and about why I’m shooting and what might be a better composition, maybe work the scene a bit, look back at contact sheets from famous photographers—I have the Magnum book and mostly use it to flatten things…—and try to emulate them a bit: they knew what they were doing. Then, maybe I’d have a better record.

As it is, well. Happy Retirement, Dad.

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