Let me start with something simple: hands.

Joshua with Soldiers, 2014

I think my fascination with hands started in one of my college drawing classes. While sketching the human body, I found that hands were always my favorite parts, although difficult to render. Hands can be just as, if not more, expressive as faces. Hands build and create. They have so much character and we could accomplish so little without them. So here are a few hand portraits for this week. The first one is of my partner and often model, Joshua. Like many mothers, Josh's mom saves a lot of memorabilia from her two children's childhood. Alright, so she saves everything. This past autumn we went to visit her and she had saved a toy chest of Josh's old figurines, stuffed animals, and other toys. Among them were these soldiers that he used to play with. I just couldn't see them go to waste. I knew immediately that I wanted to photograph his hands with these old, small pieces of his childhood. They took a while to set up but I'm pleased with the result. Another plus is that the photo exaggerates his size and makes him look like a giant, which I find quite amusing.  

This image was made on a Speed Graphic 4×5 camera on Ilford HP5.


Katie gets engaged, 2013

This portrait is of my closest friend in the world. Katie lives far away and I miss her so. She came out to visit Portland for the first time two years ago, almost to the day. She had just gotten engaged to Evan (the male hand) after almost eight years of being together. At the time, the image was taken to showcase her ring and their engagement. They are no longer together and looking back I'm really happy that I took this image. It makes me remember how fond I am of both of them, together or separately.

This image was also made on a Speed Graphic 4×5 camera on Ilford HP5.

 

Michael Hurley with Fiddle and Tea Diptych, 2015

I started to focus on making hand portraits of people who worked with their hands: artists, makers, bakers and cooks. I was fortunate enough to be at the right place at the right time with these images. These images of Michael Hurley were made at the Sou'Wester at the coast. It was Josh and my 6th anniversary together and we ventured out to spend Valentine's Day at the coast to see Michael Hurley sing. I love the intimate lodge at the Sou'Wester and the show was amazing.

After the show and a little too much to drink, I approached Michael and asked him if I could photograph him sometime. I told him how I liked his hands, which I realized later sounds a touch creepy, no pun intended. Somehow he said yes, I think it was mostly because I had my Rolleiflex around my neck and he complimented me on it. The images were taken with my Speed Graphic 4x5 on Ilford HP5, the morning after the show, the light was glorious. Michael loves tea so much, he even wrote a song about it:

The Tea Song

Turn on the tea & let it brew

I like six cups not one or two

Break out the cups & the honey too

And turn on the tea & let it brew

I don't care that she's left me

Just so long as the cupboard's full of tea

My nerves are shaking & my heart is breaking

That's just because of all the tea I take in

Poor old Buddha turned into stone

That's why I drink tea alone

Budda made of stone & his eyes are ruby

But his thoughts & dreams are distilled in the tea

I'll drink my tea & sit & dream

Conjure up the leprechaun to dance upon the steam

I'm drinking my tea & it's getting late

Thought I heard somebody pass my gate

(I don't know and I wonder what's to become of me

Sitting up all night listening to the CBC)

 

Ray Bidegain, Hands 2015

This image is of artist Ray Bidegain's hands. I've attended and assisted a few of his tintype portrait sessions and I've always wanted a portrait of his hands with silver nitrate on them. This image was taken with my Rolleiflex in his basement studio. The lighting wasn't ideal but Ray is patient, supportive and a great teacher. Being with Ray makes you feel like you can accomplish something special, right there on an ordinary day. I hope to make more images of this artist's hands in the future.

 

Greg with Chicken, 2015

These are portraits of my good friend Greg. He has a farm with a huge garden and raises his own animals for meat. He has some beautifully worn hands, if I've ever seen some. I'll have to photograph them again soon. These images were made the day of a chicken slaughter. The one on the left is the moment right before the boys had a race to see who could clean a chicken the fastest and tidiest. His hand paused with a knife, ready. The one on the right hand side is in the heat of battle. Both were taken with my Rolleiflex 3.5 with HP5.