Platon’s Studio Portraiture

Platon’s Studio Portraiture

(Platon taking a portrait of Colin Powell. from the documentary “Abstract”)

I’ve known Platon a year ago when I’ve watched him in a documentary called “Abstract”. This is without realizing that I’ve already seen his works a lot of times, most often in the front pages of magazines like Time. He has photographed some of the most iconic and powerful personalities around the world. From presidents like Clinton, Obama, and Putin, to cultural icons like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg.

(Platon’s iconic portrait shoots used in Time magazine: Obama (left); Gaddafi (middle); Putin (Right))

A Platon photo is easily recognized; hard shadows and high contrast. His lighting is as simple as it gets; white background, a studio strobe with a shoot-through umbrella and a flag on the side of his subject.  It’s easy to copy his setup but it’s difficult to mimic the way he shoots his portrait. His portraits emphasize on the subject’s eyes, you are drawn to it, and it feels like the subject is telling you his story. You’ll feel like you really know them.

(A photo from Platon’s photo project called “Exiled: Burma in transition” )

“Photography is technical, but 99.9% of the time is about connection”

The quote above is my favourite from him. This is perhaps why he still shoots with film; because with digital, you are constantly looking at your camera’s LCD and you lose the connection with your subject. I love that, and that’s why I’ve switched to film as well. I always want to be in the moment with my subject. Platon believes that a camera is just a tool and it should not overcome the photographer, and that the most important skill a photographer should have is communication and the ability to tell the story through pictures.

(Platon uses hand gestures like touching his heart in order to communicate to a non-english speaking subject.)