I have recently received the feedback for my first assignment in People and Place, with it on Portraits I was very excited to complete this and did so to the best of my ability. I had focused on showing my artistic and technical ability however I feel this approach overtook another aspect which was a narrative to the images. Although it wasn’t a requirement within the brief for the assignment, my tutor quite rightly said:
“This is a very effective formal composition but I don’t think it adds anything to my understanding of the subject, portrait implies much more than a picture of.”
I think this is a very good and basic thing to consider when working on a portrait and something I will certainly work on to develop my narrative abilities within photography.
The first image of my assignment was suggested that for displaying the image with a white border it is important to be able to differentiate the whites of the background and border. To do this I have reduced the whites of the image to 247. Hopefully this will then give the viewers eye a limit to the image.
In the second image of the group my tutor has agreed with me on the toe being clipped which was a disappointment for me as it such a simple and poor mistake to make but one that will ensure it doesn’t happen again. It was also commented that the head of the subject looks to be held there, vice like by the black and white. Although I don’t completely understand what is meant by this, I feel the posture and pose of the subject is restricted by the wall he is sat on, not allowing for a comfortable and easy movement. If I was to re do this image I would perhaps consider getting in closer and focusing on the subject and the ‘R’ in the wall. This would hopefully bring less focus on the pose and more on the facial expression of the subject and texture of the wall. I do feel this is perhaps the strongest of the images for narrative, it shows the subject is connected with his history and family which in turn develops are understanding of him.
In this third image my tutor says that although it is a strong and effective formal composition however it doesn’t show or tell us anything about the subject or develop our understanding of him. I completely agree with this, and when looking back at this image I can see that it is rather a picture of the subject in an interesting composition, rather than a picture of the subject telling us something. I do however really enjoy the composition of this image, the higher position gives the viewer an interesting perspective while the lines draw the eye around the image leading back to the subject. I had also stepped further below the subject to ensure the head was held solely within the sky, this was to give it a focus slightly more so than the rest.
This image was likened to that of a technique that Hiro, the 1970’s Japanese fashion photographer, used and more specifically his work on the Rolling Stones album cover of Black and Blue. It adds an element of glamour while looking rather nonchalant and in this case with a little attitude, showing a slight raise in the upper lip. As the tutor mentions, this goes a small way to beginning to show the potential character of the model.
Within the feedback it was noted I had not explained my decision to not have a catchlight in the eyes. I had worked with the idea of having a slight slight in the left eye to draw the viewer in further however when I removed this I felt it worked even better, the darkness of the eye but yet still visible and determinable from pupil to eye ball. I like how it is dark and foreboding which works well with the facial expression, tonal range and three quarter lighting.
As noted in the overall comments for this assignment my early indication of technical ability the subject of the narrative and the image as a metaphor come to question rather quickly so with this in mind I will certainly aim to continue my abilities while adding more focus on the more in depth and meaning of the images, either individually or as a group. While doing so I will continue to work on research, something which I certainly have to add more time to.
Below please find a link to the feedback received: