on the artist
Arthur Tress comes to photograph you, beware. Do not be taken in by that
smile and shy demeanor. They are his disguises. Arthur sees rather
looks, and he will see your secrets. I don't know quite how he does it.
will not just photograph your chin or nose or eyebrows. He will not seat
in front of a piece of white no-seam paper and pretend that a photograph
your wrinkles and a receding hairline is anything more than wrinkles and
hairline. And that bored look on your face is certainly a picture of
not revelation or character. Actually that type of portrait has always
more insult than insight in my opinion. He has not been mesmerized by
camera's wonderful ability to describe and does not perpetuate the photo-
myth that people are what they appear to be in front of a camera.
takes enormous chances and makes new demands on traditional ideas
what a photographic portrait might be, always a risky business. But he
to that risk, and in expanding his photographic vocabulary, he also ex-
will upset you. When he photographs you with a friend or lover, you
become an actor. You will perform in his theater and that drama one soon
is one's own. Don't be surprised if Arthur suddenly asks you to put
mother in a wheelbarrow, and don't be amazed to find yourself doing it.
all seems a joke, but when our smiles fade we are quietly shocked by what
are experiencing. Something disconcerting has happened. Looking at
of these photographs is like listening in on some strange family's ar-
We are embarrassed and want to leave quietly, but don't. Ultimately
joke has been on us. What at first glance seemed corny and obvious now
become quite serious and makes us feel uncomfortable. And we are not
to this discomfort. Most photographers make us so comfortable that we
asleep. We prefer photographers not to make demands on us.
is not nice. He irritates the way children do that ask too many questions.
wish that they would be quiet because we do not know the answers to
questions. Arthur does. lt's not that he photographs all those things that
so readily seen between people. Rather that he ifltuits all those unseen
a relationship and brings them to our attention. Now we understand and
more needs to be said. lt is a kind of photographic vaudeville, funny
don't think that I want Arthur to photograph me. I might not be prepared
with what he sees. And I know he will be right.