Peeling the Onion
“A Hat and A Dream” was originally going to be the title for this series. When I have an idea of how I am going to create a portrait, it often goes out the window once I start work. Doris owned over 200 vintage hats and had a decades old dream of telling a story with those hats. She wanted to tell stories with the hats, funny stories. She is a funny person. You would not think that when you first meet her, but if you get to know her you find that she is very funny, sometimes in a dramatic way sometimes in a subtle way.
I like to tell stories and I tell lots of stories through my pictures. I liked Doris and her vintage hats and wanted to help Doris realize her dream by telling her hat story in this portrait series. But I realized that photographing Doris was like peeling an onion, stripping different sides of her as we talked and made pictures. Hence, I named the series Peeling the Onion.
Doris let me put colored dots on her face. I used the dots to dramatically mimic the vintage hat netting which partially covers the face. I think the dots help people to look beyond a person’s age and to notice other things about that person. I like to think that people have more in common than we would think despite age or any physical differences we may all have.
What if I were to tell you that I was the onion? Each picture I make is a layer of the onion. I can’t predict what I will find under that layer, but I make the picture anyway. My artistic process is a private thing to me which makes peeling that onion difficult. To make a good portrait I need to communicate my thoughts to the person I am photographing. I never know what that person will think about it. Fortunately, people have been adventurous and have gone along and even contributed to the process of making the photograph. They also have been generous in sharing layers of their onion with me.