Cayo Costa Portraits

part of the group at the beach

What is a portrait? Does the subject have to be facing you? Must they be the only one in the frame? How much of the frame does the person have to take up to be a “portrait”? Do they have to be looking at the camera? Do you have to be able to see their face?

I remember these questions coming up in a commercial photography class when I was studying photography at Ohio University. During the class we were required to take a “non-traditional portrait”.

This last weekend I accidentally relived this class. I had a camping trip with a group of 30 friends and took my camera along with no real goals – just to have it with me for whatever struck me. It was only after the trip when I sat down to edit the images that I realized that 90% of the shots were portraits. When I say this I don’t just mean that 90% of the images had a person in them – having a person in the picture does not make it a portrait. I mean that 90% of the frames captured something interesting I saw in their personality, mannerisms, or character.

I owe an enormous amount to the work of Stephen Kennedy, from whom the style of several of these images is blatantly lifted (hopefully with my own additional style mixed in).


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