It's in the Eyes
by Gunther Allen
As I view Michael Swaffar's photography I am drawn to the eyes of most of the models. What do they have to reveal and say to me? I want to know all about the little girl on "The Other Side of The Fence" and why another little girl "Pouts". As the cliche goes..."the eyes are the windows of the soul", and I certainly feel this is true gazing into the eyes of many of Michaelâs beautiful captures. There is so much emotion, character, and mystery about what the subjects are really thinking. Many stare right at the camera as they tease the onlooker to gaze right back. Daring us to take a deeper look. Telling us to understand their story.
I will let Ruth Mitchell tell how Michael uses an empathetic approach to his portraits, but I would like to also place a few of links to the photography works of Herb Ritts and Annie Leibovitz. I am reminded of their work when viewing Michaelâs photography:
Michael S. Swaffar
by Ruth Mitchell
Most people do not feel relaxed and comfortable in front of the camera. Thatâs why some portraits look stiff and posed. Not so when Michael S. Swaffar of Heber Springs, Arkansas is behind the lens.
Using the most modern of digital cameras, Michael intuitively catches the personality of his subjects, by watching and recording the up and down of emotions in any given moment, empathizing with his subjects to reward them with an image that often gets the response, âwow.â?
Self-taught, this diligent artist has won several awards for his work. Given his empathetic approach to portraits, and his keen eye for light and color, Michael has an equally startling skill at creating special effects through digital darkroom techniques of the images he takes. âWhen creating certain images I pursue altering reality, from what I see and what I would prefer to see.â? Swaffarâs nature images, in particular, reflect his unique vision for seeing the marvelous in the ordinary.
by Michael Swaffer
I can remember as a kid always having a camera but not always having film. Had my pictures been better, maybe it would have been easier to talk my parents out of 10 bucks and avoided a short-lived hobby. I still have some old Polaroid pictures and judging by them, you would never have guessed that I would someday have my own studio.
I had forgotten how much I loved photography until I discovered a second love, antiques. Ebay became my new addiction and of course, I realized a digital camera would come in handy. While checking my online auctions at work I would hear âI know thatâs only a teapot but thatâs a great pictureâ? Within a matter of months, I had forgotten my ebay password and found SmartEagle.com, now Photoshowdown. âWOW!â? What a thrill to win my very first POTD (Photo Of The Day) and still get the same feeling today when I wake up to that big applauding smiley faced congratulations from Gunther.
During an earlier photo shoot, a mother was explaining to her three young sons that âMister Michaelâ? would be taking their pictures. She gave one child a hug just in time for me to snap a quick shot. After viewing the picture emailed to her the next day, she called to say, ââ¦you made me cry. Iâm not a pretty woman, but Iâm beautiful in this picture.â? It gave me a feeling I will never forget, ââ¦ all mothers are beautiful â¦ some just havenât seen themselves in the right light.â? At that moment, I realized my hobby had become my passion.
Soâ¦ Iâve quit my job at the bank and moved to a very small town in Arkansas called Heber Springs. Shortly after moving here a few picture of my niece Makayla, which youâve all seen so many times, was compared to Mike Disfarmerâs work.
http://photography.about.com/cs/portrai … 050503.htm
In the small mountain town of Heber Springs, the Arkansas artist known as Disfarmer captured the lives and emotions of the people of rural America between 1939-1945. Critics have hailed Disfarmer's remarkable black and white portraits as "a work of artistic genius" and "a classical episode in the history of American photography. I instantly became a fan. Itâs stated in his bio that, "having your picture taken at Disfarmer's studio became one of the main attractions of a trip to town". It would be a dream come true for someday the same to be said of my studio -Shuttered Image Photography.
After setting up my studio, the first thing I realized was that I now had endless possibilities of lighting and would be starting a completely new journey of learning. This brings me to my all time favorite photographer, the great George Hurrell. He was a Master of Lighting with the ingenuity to create the perfect mood for the most glamorous of models. He strove to achieve a level of perfection that could only be reached by time-consuming touch ups to create a fantasy world for the Stars. When this can be done without erasing the subjectâs character. Iâm 100 % for it. Who wouldnât want a portrait of themselves looking as glamorous and sophisticated as a Hollywood film star? As for now, I plan to spend much of my spare time experimenting with lights and shadows.
By this time, you have probably realized that more than 95% of the time my camera is directed toward a person as apposed to a beautiful landscape, animal or object. This is mostly due to my need for immediate accolade and partly due to my less than perfect ability to capture to true beauty of the world around me. Another area I plan to keep working on.
Iâd like to take this opportunity to thank my Family and friends for their support and encouragement which without I would not have even considered this bold move. Also, Iâd like to thank Gunther and all of the wonderful photographers at PhotoShowdown for their encouraging comments that have helped boost my confidence to the necessary level to attempt this venture. I wish you all the Best.
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