Thinking about location

The brief is to find six very different locations, settings or backgrounds which could be used effectively for a whole body or torso portrait. There are times when it makes sense to bring the location into the photograph and even to let it play a leading role.

Some thoughts immediately came to mind – railway station, rural views, in the home. However I wanted to take time over this one for some more original ideas.

Santa Monica         Santa Monica p

These two shots were taken last year on Santa Monica beach in California. I wanted to include them in my learning log because the subject’s facial expression captures the fun and freedom of the fun fair.


Here is a selection I took for the exercise, shown first without a portrait subject and then with subject included.

Media city 1   media city 3   media city p1   media city p3

Media City, Manchester. This is a popular spot for workers’ lunch breaks. Although I did not know the subject, I couldn’t resist taking these shots. I wonder whether the girl is resting her aching feet (note the kicked off shoe) or whether it is a moment of contemplation, as she gazes into the water.


snow   Snow p    2-1   2-3   2-5

Local shots in the snow. Some were posed and some not. The subject’s clothing and expressions in all the shots highlight just how unforgiving the cold Cumbrian winters can be.


2-1100106   2-1100111   2-1100109

A couple of self portraits. Not quite torso shots, but nevertheless I like how the colours of the subject’s clothes blend well into the background environment.


Mallard   Mallard p     Tornado   Tornado p

A recent visit to a steam exhibition. The second shot shows how chuffed David was with getting up close and personal with the famous Mallard steam locomotive. The last shot shows the engine driver, happy to pose for me, proud as punch and in his element.


2-1028   2-1031

MGBGT V8 restoration project, with the restorer!


1 Lowry   Lowry p2

This visit to the Lowry gallery in Manchester to view the Andy Gotts exhibition. I returned to this spot later to capture my subject viewing the portraits.

A couple of the above are perhaps more head and shoulders than torso or whole body. However I have included them in my selection because I like the way the subjects expressions reveal their emotion and attachment to the setting.

Final image

A difficult choice, but I finally opted for this image. I feel that the subtle smile sums up the emotions of the train driver – proud and a little smug. His posture, leaning out, arms folded casually portrays him at ease and comfortable in his beloved loco. Happy to have his photo taken, but not looking into the camera.

Tornado p