REMOTE PORTRAITS BY JASON MADARA
When quarantine hit in mid-March Jason Madara was faced with an unexpected reality: all shoots were canceled and he was home full time, whereas he usually traveled a few weeks out of every month. However, what at first seemed ominous was actually the seed of a personal creative evolution. Partially to fill his newfound free time, and in an effort to stay sane, he set up a studio in his home to experiment. His daughter, a frequent subject of his portraits, was his first test case. He also experimented by shooting a few close friends via FaceTime.
Early on, he wasn’t sure if this work was just a creative exercise or something he could grow and make viable for commissioned work. Although he was able to find a rhythm in directing from afar, he quickly realized that the quality of FaceTime screen captures was subpar. There was also the question of style, whether these remote portraits would be something totally new or align aesthetically with the signature style of his past work.
In order to address the issue of quality, he began sending his subjects iPhones so they could shoot the portraits themselves while he directed via FaceTime. Madara naturally gravitated towards subjects with a creative edge, because his new shooting process was more collaborative than ever before. Peter Cortez, a Brooklyn based creative director, was the first subject of the series that he hadn’t met prior to shooting. The duo connected on FaceTime to break the ice and ended up chatting for a few hours. From there, Madara sent a tailored selection of mood images to help shape the portrait. He includes images for a variety of reasons, like an interesting pose or if he felt the subject’s attitude was similar to Peters.
The resulting portrait and those that followed speak for themselves. There is an undeniable energy and an intimacy that Madara creates with his subjects. Madara has made the process he started with Peter his common practice and will use this process in an upcoming commissioned shoot. The project also speaks to creative growth. Jason Madara is still a portrait photographer at his core, but he was reminded of his adaptability as an artist. Sometimes the perfect portrait requires a professional studio and a large crew. Other times, a photographer, his subject, inspiration, good light and an iPhone will do the trick too.