Felix Nadar Bio

Felix Nadar was arguably one of the best portrait photographers of the 19th century.   Of French descent, he was a writer as well as a caricaturist before he became a photographer.   In his young age, he first studied medicine.   However, it was his father’s publishing house going bankrupt that caused him to earn his own living.   He began by writing for newspapers, and later settled in Paris where he created caricatures for humor magazines. He became an expert photographer by 1853, but surprisingly only spent six years in the field. This proved to be more than enough time to demonstrate his exceptional skill and creativity.
      Perhaps the most inspiring element I uncovered about Felix Nadar was his overall view on photography.   He truly left me feeling nothing less then downright giddy when I discovered his take on learning the techniques of photography.   He stated that the techniques of photography could be learned, but other qualities could not:
It’s the sense of light, it’s the artistic appreciation of
the effects produced by different and combined qualities
of light, it’s the applying of this or that effect according
to the nature of the face that you have to reproduce as
an artist. What can be learned still less is the moral
intelligence of your subject, it’s the swift tact that puts
you in communion with the model, makes you size him
up, grasp his habits and ideas in accordance with his
character, and allows you to render, not an indifferent
plastic reproduction that could be made by the lowliest
laboratory worker, commonplace and accidental, but
the resemblance that is most familiar and most favorable,
the intimate resemblance (National Gallery of Art).
His eloquent summary permeated deep into my soul as I recalled practicing every aspect each and every time I photographed someone. For me, it’s that innate feeling of wanting to capture an individual in there most natural yet revealing state. To really articulate the...