Assignment 1: Portrait

In this first assignment for People and Place we are asked to photograph one subject in a number of different scenarios and situations, including different lighting, location and expression. My subject is my grandfather, and each image is from separate focused shooting sessions, with individual planned ideas and focuses.

IMG_2858This first image was taken within a studio setting as this is my preferred method of portraiture, the control and vast amount of possibilities it can give. This image is a fun, sharp and clean image, the juxtaposition of an older person with a jesters hat within a crisp white background. I particularly like the sharpness of the image, the focus is spot on the models eyes and with a deep depth of field the whole image is sharp and really gives it a punch. I have recently been a fan of Tadao Cern a Lithuanian photographer who used a leaf blower to deform a models face, resulting in an interesting and odd portrait and by using a different idea along the same lines of changing the appearance of a respectable older person, and a single prop I was able to do this. By taking this point and then adding the facial expression we get an extra level of depth into this image, the fun attitude and look of the model who is really taking to the role.

IMG_2972I took this image on location, in a significant part of southampton to the model, with this being the original wall of the bakery his mother worked in. I originally like the look of this wall with its loose plaster and colours and also the way the letter R stood out to me as a negative shape. I really feel the wall works really well in not only complimenting the model and in turn the portrait of him but also to draw the viewers eye along the image to the face. The overall exposure of the image is very good, resulting in a bright image which not only gives the image excellent contrast but also draws the whole composition together and gives the viewer an interesting image to focus on. The model himself is positioned as directed, using the natural dereliction of the wall as a seat which goes some way in drawing the viewers eye along the lines and curves of the image. I like the placement of the models hands, placing one on the wall shifts his weight to lean in towards the wall, this gives an element of an affinity with the place and adds an emotive notion to the image, while the other hand, placed on his leg gives it contrast and stands out against the lighter wall, this results in a far more complete image, however I have made the simple mistake of not ensuring I had the models toes in the image, this spoils the image slightly for me as a complete composition would result in a stronger image due to the complete view of the model, this instead gives it a rushed feel.

IMG_3072This third portrait was taken again on location on the premises of the University of Southampton on a visit to a gallery there, I had noticed the lower vantage point when passing so on the way back we attempted to see how it would work, and after choosing the best possible composition I asked the model to step in. I feel this image works really well, giving the viewer an interesting view on not only model but also the architecture, the lines in the image give the viewer an added element which not only improve the image with an interesting location but also to draw the viewer around the image. After taking a number of images to ensure I got the right composition I stepped slightly forward to take this immediately noticing the improvement due to the subjects head not being lost in any of the surrounding and being isolated amongst the blue sky. The textures of this image work really well, especially in the foreground where the concrete takes your eye, then with the lines you travel the image. The models positioning in this image is very important in how we perceive him, already by appearing high up he is given an undercurrent of importance and grander, which complimented by the facial expression and eye contact as if he is looking down upon us. The hands placed on the rails also effects his appearance, initially by making the visible it adds a contrast and break into the black lines of the railings and then also by drawing our eyes up to his face.

IMG_3095This close up image taken on location using natural light and a reflector creates an interesting and eye catching portrait that really draws the viewer into the model, the apparent eye contact acts as a pull which focuses the viewer to the details within the image. However by wearing dark glasses the model remains distanced from the audience, this giving him an air of disdain and nonchalance which really works on this close up image as it contrasts the closeness of the composition with the attitude of the model. I feel in hindsight more could have been done to find a background that really gave more of an impact however I feel this works in just adding some depth while still ensuring focus is on the model.

IMG_2907These three final images are in my opinion the strongest of the assignment, each in black and white they all capture an extremely diverse and interesting set of emotions each in a composition that perfectly compliments the overall desire of the image, the first image below shows the model with a rather perplexing facial expression with his eyes looking closely out of the frame, this is in contrast with the photographic rule of the subject looking or moving into the space, I felt this composition worked duly on the mystery of what caused the quizzical look from the model. This image is also complimented with the rim lighting on the models shoulders, thus separating his upper body from the back ground, I feel this really does improve the image, giving an interesting lighting technique however I feel that it is slightly to burnt out behind the models left ear, thus drawing the eye slightly. The focus within this image is spot on, the hair, facial expressions and shirt are all sharp and complimented by a perfect tonal range on the facial areas, this shows an even lighting on the face which really works well to ensure the facial expression is seen.

IMG_2922This second image is a very different image all together the lighting although harsher and more contrasted still results in a nice tonal range, however the use of a single light placed almost behind the subject has given me an interesting and emotive three quarter lighting. I asked the model for a serious and concerned face, to compliment the others already within this series, as I feel something serious was missing. The texture on the models face and within there hair really helps this image to stand out amongst the others while the obvious dark eyes looking straight down the camera really give this image a sinister and dark feeling. I think the framing of the image is tight enough with enough room on the darker side for it to blend into the face still giving space for what would have been there otherwise. I feel that in terms of technical ability and atmosphere this is the strongest image, not only is it captivating it is also well lit and composed.

IMG_2871The last image of the assignment is this fun and interesting image. This idea had come from an image I had originally done of a young boy, the image capturing his character perfectly and from that image I felt the contrast of the same expressions would work well with an older person to. The tonal range of this image works well with the white background of the image, while coupled with the vignette which in this case really helps the image by focusing the viewers eye onto the center of the frame. The juxtaposition of the model pulling this face really sets it apart from the others, perhaps apart from the first image. I really like this image, I feel it is technically and aesthetically interesting while also standing apart from the other images entirely due to the facial expression and eye contact.

Overall I feel I have produced an interesting and aesthetically pleasing selection of photographs, I think that perhaps there is an obvious style running through my black and white images while also within the colour images there is beginning to be a coherent path starting to take place within my images especially when focused on people. I very much enjoyed this assignment, particularly the studio work, as I feel these are some of my best images to date. I really look forward to continuing to progress my photograph within this genre and the first assignment has really shown me firstly my potential but also how much else there is to do.


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