Mother After Asking That Her Picture Not Be Taken, August 8, 2010

by Kelly Landrum

mother after asking that her picture not be taken seeking critique kelly landrum

Gallery: Families

Tags: seeking critique

Category: Portrait

Published: Tuesday 10th of August 2010 04:02:37 PM


Wolfgang Arnold

Luckily you were a naughty boy and took the photo ;-) - despite some technicalities (sharpness and lost details in highlights - nothing serious, still in the range of being a matter of taste) it's a strong portrait. Her gaze, her hand holding a handkerchief (so typical for the elderly) and surroundings form a great capture of the situation. I have the impression it conveys something of her personality. 

While I don't like the highlights too much, I'm astonished by the shadows and how well wrinkles on her left side show (wondering where the light came from to get these details...).

Landrum Kelly

Thanks, Wolfgang.  I am totally unrepentant.  It was a grab shot caught by the light of a sliding door that goes onto the patio, on the dark side of the house. 

Thanks for commenting.


deb cloud
Sometimes we must disobey...

The way I see it Lannie, sometimes we must disobey for the greater cause.  She is advancing in years and this will be a treasure to you and your family for years to come.  Lovely woman and lovely image captured.


Les Berkley

Strong image, details don't matter. Some nice contrast of textures going on as well...

Landrum Kelly

Thank you, Les.

Deb, it's always nice to hear from you.


Tom Wiggins

Lannie:  I very much like this B&W photo, it speaks from the era of your Mother's youth.   It's so nice to still have your mother with you, cherish every moment.  I did a slight levels adjustment to the midpoint to lighten the shadow slightly, just my personal preference. Tom

Tom Wiggins

Lannie:  Oh who I can understand your Mother's feelings, but for me when I see my mother's face in photos I understand all too well now how the wrinkles (i.e. character) were earned by years of experience. What we like in a photo depends in how we see ourselves and the world.  Tom

Landrum Kelly

Thanks, Tom.  I suppose that I could have added a bit more contrast as well, although I don't think that she would have liked seeing more obvious wrinkles.  I guess that it is a matter of "beauty" (less contrast) versus "character" (more contrast and thus more obvious wrinkles).

I didn't go for any obvious effects here, one way or the other.  (It actually looks pretty good in color, by the way.)


John Peri

I have debated this too often to bore people once again.  Nevertheless, I remain a firm believer in the importance of impact, what an image says, rather than any obsession with its technical qualities. Of what interest is a perfectly exposed image if the photo tells us nothing, on the other hand who cares when a photo moves us, like the image above. 


I love the intensity and humanity of this portrait. I identify with the person, the moment captured and the force of the message conveyed. Superb, I love it, bravo. 

Landrum Kelly

Thanks, guys.  It may be a bit contrasty, but she often looked out the window at the birds without any other light in the room--and so the dark, contrasty look captures more of the feel of the setting and of her situation.  (She was too arthritic to move very much the last few years of her life, and so much of her life was increasingly lived in that room.)

John, I am glad that this one speaks to you.  My mother was a very gentle soul, but she did have fire in her soul up until she died (a few days before her ninety-second birthday)--and you can probably see a bit of it in her eyes here.


One of my daughters went in there to see her shortly before she died, to ask how she was.  She said, "Well, I'm not quite up to dancing with the stars just yet, but I'm going pretty well."  I'm pretty sure she recognized the possible double meaning of "dancing with the stars."  She was sharp as a tack until the day she died.



Steve Gubin

I do not find this too "contrasty" at all.  Besides the intelligence and the slight look of disapproval on your mother's face (I don't think I'd want to mess with her!), what strikes me about this photo is its honesty.  Meaning the honesty of the photographer and the way he took the photograph.   The light was the light, and there is nothing lost in the shadows or the highlights.  The very lack of artifice or overprocessing is what allows the simple fact of your mother to come through.  It is a lovely lovely photo.    

Tony Hadley

There are some images that it are important to record without lots of consideration for technicalities and IMHO, this is one. I have fondness for the older generation  and I feel no differently about this individual. Despite being told not to take the image but still taking it is a tricky moral area. She does not want to be remembered like this I suppose and you want a 'permanent' memory. Having never met your mother I am glad you are able to share this wonderful image with me. And that is all I have to say!


All the best and thank you for your recent visit,


Landrum Kelly
Mother After Asking That Her Picture Not Be Taken, August 8, 2010 Comments welcome.


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