The portrait photographer and the poet.

Letitia Wright by David Vintiner –

Out of the blue I received this message:   “My name is David Vintiner and I am photographer based in London. I am about to start a new body of work exploring connection. Over the last few months of lockdown it was the absence of person to person connection that was particularly challenging for me as a portrait photographer…..

Phoebe Waller-Bridge by David Vintiner –

….It was during this time that I decided, when the circumstances allowed, I would embark on a series of twelve portraits where the sitter decided on who I would connect with for the next portrait,….

Ricky Gervais by David Vintiner –

…..the idea is to see where the journey leads me and explore the idea of a string of connections. I am contacting you because I would love to ask Lemn Sissay to be the first person I photograph to start me off on this journey. It would then be up to Lemn to decide on who my next sitter should be.”   

Have a look on his site in a week to see who is being shot next.   So we did the shoot a couple of days ago. I received the shots today. The first is my favourite but  I am interested in your opinion. Which of the two shots below is the better one?

Photo by David Vintiner   –

Photo by David Vintiner.  –

POSTSCRIPT:The project is called twelve and a half portraits

58 thoughts on “The portrait photographer and the poet.

  1. I love the first image as it engages the viewer in terms of asking questions, what are you thinking? What are you looking at? Why have you chosen a side on pose?

    In contrast the second image perhaps asks more. It asks the above question? And perhaps more on why is colour, contrasting bright colours used? Is Lemn wishing to focus his portrait on colour and his interest on the viewer and how they interpret me??
    Why am I against the sheet? Is it about protection in the sense that it is wrapping around me? etc.
    These are judge my initial thoughts and not judgements. I am a huge fan of your work and have been deeply stirred by your life story following your documentary and the recent Q&A with the Indies charity.
    Best wishes, Lorna Jappy

  2. It’s all very subjective isn’t it?
    But I prefer the top photo.
    It gives you, Lemn, an air of mystery. For anyone in the public eye, that can only be a good thing as it makes a person wish to discover more about you, your life and of course, your poetry.
    A lovely portrait.

  3. I prefer the first shot too, it’s a great idea and I am interested to see who you will choose for his next sitter.

  4. The top one: full headshot.

    Thoughtful aesthetic within a powerful composition. Strong colours where the cross is signified. Reminds me of Wallace Stevens:

    ‘The poet is the priest of the invisible.’

  5. I def like the first one. It’s really strong and characterful with your face ‘popping’ against the background.
    The second one looks more contrived and a less intimate portrayal.
    Just my opinion!
    What a great idea the portrait chain of connection is. I look forward to seeing the rest.

  6. You’d have needed to wear red trousers for the second one to work well. The first one is a very good portrait, use that … though I think you’ve already decided.
    Looking forward to seeing who you picked for the next portrait!

  7. The first one is brilliant and extraordinary! In the second one the sheet is a distraction. Go with the first, I say because it is pure Lemn Sissay.

  8. I like the second one but cropped so only the green fabric is in the background. They are both very expressive photos.

  9. I like the first one but the second one has more to play with. You look slightly like you are pushing against the sheet – defiance? I like the fact you are not smiling in either – maybe a truer reflection of the inside – very complex anyway. You also look, if this is possible, more Ethiopian in these.

  10. For sure the first one!

    I have to find younger pics of my uncle who is a spitting image of your face…lol…

    By the way…. did you know Lem means ‘fertile’ in Amharic?

  11. The first one – beautiful balance of strong colours, great profile and most importantly, your eyes are speaking volumes.

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