9 Replies Latest reply: Jul 19, 2012 1:31 AM by Lundberg02 RSS

    Robert Weingarten's 'Portrait Unbound' project

    Trevor.Dennis MVP

      I know a few posters here keep a weather eye on sites like DPReview and Tom's Hardware, but for those that missed it, this video about Robert Weingarten's 'Portrait Unbound' project is interesting.  It shows a tiny snippet of him assembling a composite in Photoshop, but is mostly about the background.   Basically, he talks to a portrait subject, and asks what has been important to that person, and then builds a photo montage that represents the subject.  It's an idea we could all borrow from, but I doubt that many of us would be able to fly to England and Italy to gather image elements, or even print of a series of test images on roll paper (One of the final prints was something like three meters wide!)

       

       

      It's also interesting to check out the DPR link to see people's reactions:

      http://www.dpreview.com/news/2012/07/16/robert-weingarten-portrait-unbound

        • 1. Re: Robert Weingarten's 'Portrait Unbound' project
          dutotone Community Member

          somewhat interesting concept, but having just watched the video I am thinking it is too, i don't know, "conrete" in lack of a better word. Just pasting together images of objects and places from a persons life. I still prefer a perfectly executed portrait photograph of the actual person, with more room for interpretation.

           

          Allthough the idea could produce some visually pleasing compositions, I'm sure it's stuff people want on their walls and that there is a market for it. I mean it could selectively showcase a persons achievements, travels and so on in a visual piece, which is something people would want.

          • 2. Re: Robert Weingarten's 'Portrait Unbound' project
            Trevor.Dennis MVP

            My thoughts were that a lot of people in this forum put together the odd themed montage, and that this was an interesting take on the idea. I am reasonably sure that I shall 'borrow' the idea in the broadest sense one day. If there is a problem with the idea, then it might be that images should be able to work without explanation, and even if you knew the subjects, which I didn’t, would the average person associate the image elements with that person?

            • 3. Re: Robert Weingarten's 'Portrait Unbound' project
              dutotone Community Member

              You mean different people contributing to one single montage?

              • 4. Re: Robert Weingarten's 'Portrait Unbound' project
                Wade_Zimmerman Community Member

                I am wondering if you are really impressed with that video and the technique?

                • 5. Re: Robert Weingarten's 'Portrait Unbound' project
                  Noel Carboni Community Member

                  dutotone wrote:

                   

                  I am thinking it is too, i don't know, "conrete" in lack of a better word.

                   

                  Unfortunately, that word isn't too good in itself...  Did you mean "concrete"?  I'm having trouble seeing how that would apply.

                   

                  From a business perspective, the guy hasn't got a bad idea... 

                   

                  Contact famous people that you've picked for their notoriety in accomplishments, sell them your idea to make a photo-art montage of their lives, calling it an "art project".  Most blow you off, but a few accept.

                   

                  Take the time to interview them and photograph a bunch of their stuff, then give them a free big print framed.  You photograph baseballs and fields for baseball players, big buildings and gold bars for executives, cars and tracks for racecar drivers, etc. and move them around in Photoshop until you have a big, busy image of stuff they like and edited well enough that it doesn't make people vomit on first glance.

                   

                  Do this enough times, and you begin to stand on the shoulders of their fame.   You become the "guy who does art montages of famous people", which gets you into even more doors.

                   

                  Then you start to charge big money from people who have it.

                   

                  -Noel

                  • 6. Re: Robert Weingarten's 'Portrait Unbound' project
                    dutotone Community Member

                    Hi Noel. Yes concrete is of course what I meant to say. Typo. Still don't know if it describes what I mean, english is like my 3rd language so please have me excused. :-)

                    • 7. Re: Robert Weingarten's 'Portrait Unbound' project
                      Bo LeBeau Community Member

                      As Trevor asked , . .would the average person associate the image elements with that person?

                       

                      I'd say no. I was generally aware of the careers of some of the people mentioned, however, the references are sometimes so vague and tenuous that they could easily apply to any of a half dozen or more other people.

                       

                      I say Amen to Noel's comment, . . big, busy image of stuff they like and edited well enough that it doesn't make people vomit on first glance.

                      One of the things that made me queasy was the Colin Powell piece where the names from the Vietnam Veterans Momorial were overlaid on almost half the image. It practically made my eyeballs vibrate!

                      • 8. Re: Robert Weingarten's 'Portrait Unbound' project
                        Trevor.Dennis MVP

                        Noel made me laugh.    Reminds me of last year’s PSNZ National Convention, where an arty photographer called Harvey Benge was one of the speakers. Harvey is way out there, and after 30 minutes of showing some very average images to 300 photographers — some of whom were world class — there was a stunned silence.  Eventually, one of the audience stood up and said “while there were a few pleasant images in your presentation, the majority had no value in terms of aesthetics and composition”.  To which Harvey replied “That’s really good, because the images challenged you and made you think”, or words to that effect.  You could use an argument like to justify just about anything.

                         

                        But my primary thoughts when starting this thread were not about how relevant, or aesthetically pleasing Robert Weingarten’s huge prints are, so much as the general idea of gathering elements for a montage based on the life experiences of a single person.   I suspect any of the regular posters to this forum could create similar montages, but while we have the Photoshop skills, we might not always have the ideas to develop.  A sort of left brain/right brain thing.   I was running a workshop at the above mentioned Convention, and I have run lighting workshops locally where several of the local pro photographers came along.  But I just don’t have natural ability when it comes to seeing an image, and I have had to work really hard on that over the years.  So I am always on the lookout for ideas.

                        • 9. Re: Robert Weingarten's 'Portrait Unbound' project
                          Lundberg02 Community Member

                          Ah, yes, making the big bucks by ego stroking, using that keen tension between the abstract and the concrete. I love these original concepts. It could be called, let's see, I've got it, "public relations".