Portraits@Noon  
ONE PORTRAIT TAKEN EVERY DAY AT NOON FOR A YEAR  
   
by Porter Gifford  
Project Statement  
 
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Project Statement - March 8, 2011

Portraits at Noon began as a self-assigned exercise during which I determined to take a picture of a different person every day for a year. By forcing myself out into the world with my camera, I had hoped to re-establish some of the photographic impulses I had developed early in my career, but felt had been waning. What emerged from the process is a series of images that present a diverse and personal portrait of my life and my community. While the project is based on an artificial construct, the 365 individual images combine to meaningfully reflect my own life in a way that I had not anticipated.

The images were all shot at noon, or as close to noon as I could possible manage. The time of day was important because I wanted to rid myself of the indulgent prejudice that a good picture couldn’t be taken when the light was at its worst. Invariably, when my wristwatch alarm sounded its daily reminder at 11:55am, I was deep into something and had to peel myself away to find someone to photograph. I never predetermined who I would photograph, and wanted from the outset to force myself to approach strangers. Sometimes a subject was close at hand, but as I did not allow myself to photograph the same person twice, the process usually involved searching for a willing participant.

When seen individually, these 365 images offer many details about the people photographed; Karen on June 26th holds a half empty box of mushrooms, Tom on November 22nd has a baby bottle in his pocket, and Yuri clearly had an extensive lunchtime repast on May 3rd. But more importantly, when seen together, the myriad colors and faces coalesce to form and reflect broader patterns. The change of seasons becomes apparent as the color palette evolves. The backdrop of my neighborhood becomes a familiar scene. It is even apparent that I went skiing over the winter holidays. It is these larger observations, that when assembled, begin to provide more information about the life of the photographer, and less about the individuals photographed.

Portraits at Noon began as an exercise, and as an exercise it helped to reanimate my commitment to several of the fundamental aspects of photography that I value most – spontaneity, engagement, and effort. It shouldn’t have been a surprise to me that what emerged from this endeavor was a spontaneous and engaging portrait of myself, and the small slice of the world I inhabit.