I've recently come across two photo books of portraits that struck a chord. Usually black and white portraiture doesn't really strike my fancy all that much. Part of the appeal of the two books here are the photographers personal stories. I suppose portrait photographers have to have an interesting story themselves in order to successfully translate other peoples stories through film.
Portraits from the Belly of the Whale by Michael Garlington is a sardonic collection of portraiture of the mad, the grotesque and the dramatic. He examines the dark peripheral of humanity. What makes his adventures in portraits so fascinating to me is that he would drive around in a "photo car." This was his car, but it was covered in his work. The car was part self promotion, part subject enticer, and part ice- breaker. A strange bird that one.
DISFARMER; The Vintage Prints, is a series of glass negative portraiture prints salvaged from the Barn studio of Mike Disfarmer in rural Arkansas. Disfarmer, born Mike Meyers legally changed his name to Mike Disfarmer in order to disassociate himself with the agrarian roots that connected him to his family and community. He even claimed that as a baby, a tornado swept him up and dropped him at his family's home. This book is a cohesive collection of his portraits. His story matches the intriguing and peculiar nature of his work.