Lars Wirzenius: Photography, 2005


Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Photography: Edelfelt taught me portraits are dull

I went to see the Albert Edelfelt exhibition at Ateneum, the national Finnish art museum. It has been an unprecedented success: over 200,000 visitors already, more than any previous exhibition. The reason is pretty clear: Edelfelt is probably the most well known of the Finnish painters, and his adulthood coincides pretty much with what is known as the golden era of Finnish art, the late 19th century. Many of his paintings are have an iconic status in Finnish culture.

It was quite nice to see the paintings in real life. What struck me most was two conclusions that I made that directly affect my photography, which is why this entry is in the photography category.

First, dozens of portraits, even brilliant ones, gets quite boring. If I want to continue portrait photography, I should restrict the number of photographs I show at a time to less than a dozen and even then they should be significantly different from each other.

Second, bigger pictures are better pictures. I need to start thinking about ways to make bigger prints.

That second conclusion is facetious, of course. It is, however, clear that some of the large paintings were really impressive and the small sketches next to them were not at all impressive. The difference wasn't just that the sketches were less well made, or had somewhat different compositions, the size also was a clear factor.