Times Square Portrait, New York, June 2004

I was in New York to shoot an attorney’s portrait, and was fascinated by the numerous sketch artists churning out quick commercial charcoal and pencil sketches for the tourists. When I was there, very late one warm busy June evening, all of the hard-working artists were from China. Each of them had an interesting story; the guy who sketched me was formerly a professor at an Art Institute in Shanghai. For $20-30 they would crank out a quick rough likeness in about 10-15 minutes. The level of artist’s skill varied widely. What I like about this shot is the depiction of the revealing nature of the idealization, and just plain lying, that goes on in portraiture. First, make the eyes at least twice as big as they really are. Then bring everything to an idealization of what’s there and erase all defects. Everybody’s happy and no one’s hurt… How cheeeesy…

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