I belive I came across Peter Hapak’s work during a random search of photographer portfolios on the popular portfolio platform, Cargo Collective. I like to try to keep abreast of what other photographers are doing and how they’re presenting their work, and this particular time I was also considering making an image-only portfolio with less bells and whistles. Still up in the air about that - trying a few more things here.
Anyway, something about Peter’s work froze me immediately - his portraits were powerful and emotive, simple yet provocative, and extremely intimate: they bring you almost uncomfortably close to the sitter, catching them in a brief burst of laughter, a wry glance, a moment of action - some short conversation between the eyes, mouth and camera that quickly ushers you past formality and pretense, and into a sort of understanding of the subject. It’s really brilliant work.
One of my favorite portraitists (photographers for that matter) is the late Richard Avedon, and he was famed for having mastered the intimate celebrity portrait, stripping away excelsior and retrieving something from a sitting the viewer hadn’t seen before from the subject. It set a very high bar for portraiture for me and I’ve seen few photographers hit that mark consistently. I don’t mean to draw an unfair comparison between Avedon’s work and Hapak’s, but I will say that I feel some of that same emotional strength in Hapak’s portraits.
I’m excited to watch his work over time.
(You can see more of Peter Hapak's work at his site, here. It stretches beyond celebrity portrait commissions, into documentary/photojournalism. There's a nice video/BTS of a project he shot for Time Magazine about protesters here.)
All images © Peter Hapak.