The Last Portrait – Introduction

This project has been three years in the making. This is partly due to the Pandemic and partly due to the challenges in conceiving it. Allow me to explain…

I asked anyone who would listen if they would think about what they would want their last portrait to look like. If no other picture was ever made of them, what would they want the last one to be?

The only guidelines were:

1 – It had to be in my “black box” studio

2 – It couldn’t have any other people in it who were recognizable.

More explaining.

I wanted people to work with a uniformity of space. They had roughly 10×12 feet to work with and we could bring anything we wanted into it, but otherwise we were working with at least one controlled factor. (This was also necessary to keep costs and logistics down; one woman wanted her family in Hawaii!)

I also wanted the portrait to be about the individual. We come into the world (relatively) alone and we leave it the same way, so again to avoid these just becoming family portraits the images couldn’t have anyone else in them UNLESS they were there to serve as a symbol and not as a specific person (I.E. if you wanted someone in a cloak to be Death, that’s okay).

I also wanted to see what and how people would interpret the project. What objects or outfits would they include? Would the premise that it was their last portrait or the potential cause of it being their last one factor into their decisions?

I made a point to stay out of the creative process as much as possible so as not to influence the outcomes. The project served as a great challenge for some as I had several people who were willing to participate but were not able to come up with any ideas. I invite them (and all of you) to participate if inspiration ever strikes.

This project is ongoing, so anyone who would want to participate from here on out is more than welcome to contact me to create an entry for the gallery. Likewise those in the gallery may at any point do a reshoot. This gallery as initially released contains two reshoots, where the person did an initial portrait that they liked, but then enough time had passed (did I mention it’s taken 3 years to get 25 images?) that they wanted to reshoot their original concept in a different way. We all (hopefully) grow and change and our visions and values change and as such what we want to leave behind also changes.

It is my hope that this project will one day have a minimum of 100 images, but so long as I’m able and people are willing I’d like to keep it as a living and breathing project.

And now…at long last…I present “The Last Portrait.”

Mike Potts
29 December 2022

(All images were shot and edited my me EXCEPT for “Heather M” which was shot and edited by Myers Photography, and “Elizabeth D” which was shot by me and edited by Myers Photography.

For those of you who skipped over my essay, the gallery page for this project contains NUDITY from more than one gender. So as not to dilute my subjects’ visions I have NOT censored the images. You have been so notified.

The Last Portrait

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