10/1/10 7:52 PM
Nathan Eldridge runs a commercial photography business specializing in portraiture. And he shoots plenty of good enough portraits, especially of attractive men with tattoos and brooding women with dark hair. Don’t get me wrong—I’d hire him to photograph myself and my family if I were in the market for such a thing. But this is an art review and my interest is in those photos where something a little bit stranger happens—whether because the sitter requested it or brought it out in the photographer, I know not. It doesn’t necessarily matter, unless you want to commission that kind of photo. For me, right now, what matters is Eldridge’s picture of one young defiant toddler dressed in blue, placed against an endless azure sky filled with strange floating things, kites and clouds rendered odd, somehow. What matters is a musician whose figure is cropped in half by the edge of the frame, while his upright bass remains whole. What matters are the young man and woman who appear, in their respective photos, almost completely out of focus, save for a single eye each. Why any of this matters is because it suggests that something is going on beyond straight portraiture, beyond a simplistic understanding of a person, beyond the notion that we are what we look like—especially when we look good, as everyone always wants to, as we pay good money to a commercial photographer to guarantee. But looking good isn’t always enough, as a truly good photographer knows.