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In the Narrative Portraiture series, photographer and teacher Chris Orwig explores how to use location and natural light to create images that tell stories about their subjects and produce a strong emotional connection.
In this installment, Chris travels to Texas to visit two artists: David Cargill, a Beaumont sculptor who works with bronze and marble, and Charles Stagg, another Beaumont sculptor but in recycled and found materials. Chris takes their portraits and spends time discussing the composition and lighting in each session.
Chris also reviews the photos he took, and discusses the gear he used and the lessons he learned while visiting with and photographing these artists.
Well, I was excited to meet Charles and to learn a little bit about him and about this place. One of the things that I needed to do was to try to get familiar with who he was, and what I noticed right off the bat is that he was a little bit soft-spoken and also that he had a lot of stories. He had lived and built this place over the last thirty years. I wanted to learn about it, and so we start to walk and to talk, and I was just asking him questions about how he built it. And what was so fascinating to me was that this structure, it almost revealed everything.
You know, in typical construction what you do is you have framing and you have perhaps wires and plumbing and then you cover all of that up with drywall. You never see inside. You never see how it was built. Well here, it was as if it was almost built inside out. You could see the whole process. You could imagine how the structure was built can by can, bottle by bottle, inch by inch, and that was really fascinating. So part of the initial process for me was just getting familiar with Charles, this place, and kind of trying to take it in.
I wanted to get him to talk about it, because I wanted to get a sense of his personality. Because the pictures that I needed to make, in a sense were a bit of a document, a bit of capturing who he was. It wasn't me imposing my vision upon him; rather, it was letting him tell his story and me there with my camera trying to capture that in an artistic way.
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