I'd known Mr. Jones for 9 months, but never had the guts to ask him why he no longer did portraits. In two separate mailings, I learned some interesting things.
At first, it was this he had to say regarding his "Portrait Period", or how he made money the first 10 years following graduation from college:
"Portraits was next for about ten year. It just got started because I was asked to do some so the career grew out of that. I can't tell you how sick I got of that after all the years were going by."So, he got sick of them, but there was more in the next correspondence:
"I gave up portraits because I felt empty all the time especially after years when by and I wasn't any further with the images in my head. They paid the rent but not much else. One day I did 'Church Window' out of no where and was so happy that I never when b ack to portraits except for a few for good people. I had enough money saved to quit them (maybe a couple thousand dollars) so I took a chance to move on. I would and will still do portraits if I could make them the way I wanted and not what the client wants.....almost with a huge smile and the best they can look. That's a hard thing to come up with for a couple hundred dollars. Perfection without a glitch. It's the same as brain surgery. I never did a 'generic' portrait, always right on. It took too much out of me. I saw the person (usually a child) for a half hour. The parents knew the person their whole life and I was expected to capture EVERYTHING in those short minutes. I never had to fix a portrait after I delivered it in ten years except for a vain woman who wanted to look 15 years younger. A lie. I had made her look ten years younger by myself already. I had the ability to flatter and edit a bit anyway. I can't do portraits today because I can't drive 25 miles anymore to get to their house to take pictures (fear I will run into a bridge) plus the fact I don't want to. I just have done a few portraits in the past two years for good people I did portraits of 30 years ago and were always so good to me. They send their best pictures (via email) and if I can work from them, I will do it. It's for good money too. Not too much but it is worth while. I used to be able to squat to take pictures, usually 72...two rolls) and I can hardly walk right now so I don't want to go through the hardships. Walking at Target's most days is enough."