Dyer Street Portraiture

This photo documentary project focuses on the denizens of a military street - Dyer - in El Paso, Texas, 1983. The photo sessions are staged in the sense that the subjects are posed in relation to their surroundings. A 20mm lens (extreme wide angle) is used to "condense" the view, and show the backdrop/background. The subjects' posture and expression come across as natural, but their "look" is manipulated through constant encouragement. They're not smiling, and in Chambers' opinion, a documentary portrait should not include this kind of expression. As soon as a subject smiles for the camera, he or she breaks character. This action dilutes the nature of the image, and it becomes nothing more than a standard studio portrait.


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Exhibitions:

"Dyer Street Portraiture" (solo show), PhotoForum Online Gallery, Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, New York, U.S.A., 1997.

"Dyer Street Portraiture", "Photo 1991" (group show), Lincoln [Flanagan] Campus Art Gallery, Community College of Rhode Island, Lincoln, Rhode Island, U.S.A., 1991.

"Dyer Street Portraiture", "Photo Show 1988" (group show), Corridor Gallery, Department of Transportation, Providence, Rhode Island, U.S.A. (sponsored by the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts), 1988.

"Dyer Street Portraiture" (solo show), The Silver Bullet Gallery, Providence, Rhode Island, U.S.A. (listed in the Notable Exhibitions section of American Photo magazine, March, 1986), 1986.

"Dyer Street Portraiture", "Photo 1985" (group show), The Gallery of Fine Arts (Southeast Museum of Photography) , Daytona State College (Daytona Beach Community College), Daytona Beach, Florida, U.S.A., 1985.

"Dyer Street Portraiture" (solo show), Southern Light Gallery, Amarillo College, Amarillo, Texas, U.S.A., 1985.

Comments/Reviews:

"The black-and-white images record a diversity of common people in an urban habitat with an ambiance of film noir." (Notable Exhibitions section, American Photo magazine, March, 1986)

"Your images are strong, direct and honest." (Arthur Goldsmith, Editorial Director, Popular Photography magazine) (1984)

"The images are well seen, and the concept seems to be viable. The series is a clean, well-photographed group of pictures." (Beaumont Newhall, Photographic Historian, The University of New Mexico) (1984)

"I hope a wider public will have an opportunity to see the pictures." (Peter Bunnell, Photographic Historian, Princeton University) (1984)

"It was very good to see the images, and I found them quite strong, both formally and emotionally." (Keith Davis, Curator, Photographic Collections, Hallmark Cards Incorporated) (1984)

"You have some very good pictures. I wish you lots of luck." (Mary Ellen Mark, Documentary Photographer) (1984)

"I always appreciate another person's very sincere efforts at his craft." (Judy Dater, Fine Arts Photographer) (1984)

"I was pleasantly surprised to look at your work. I believe it's the strongest I've seen." (Robert Hirsch, Director, Southern Light Gallery, Amarillo College) (1984)

A response Chambers received from a reader: "Just completed the Photo-Seminars series concluding with your piece on Documentary Portraiture. The subject content on the human condition presentation by your 'Dyer Street Portraiture' series was somewhat disconcerting; these photos were definitely not the cotton candy glamor queen shots. Assessing the concept of creating a studio portrait vs an ageless portrait is evaluating the selection of the appropriateness of one of the facets of the gesture of a smile vs non-smile gesture leans more depth and ambiance to the portrait. The overall impression of your portrait lesson left the impact of a haunting punch.

I Believe my preference is your masterfully delivered jab of enlightenment. Perhaps with a slight upper cut (a short swing blow from beneath to the opponents chin) - your portraiture article helped me to condense and to fine tune my portrait style into - in your face - defined more precisely as close up and personal, simplify, crop out the surrounding unnecessary clutter and to utilize the look and non-smile gestures to the advantage of the moment while seeking the authenticity of the moment being photographed. At the moment your e-mail was being generated, I was reflecting upon the following quotation: The so-called past is the top of the heart; the present is the top of the fist; and the future is the back of the brain. Zen saying."

(If interested in learning more about documentary portraiture, go to Chambers' lesson. It's also listed with It's Art Baby! Art! and Profotos.)