Drawing together my experiences in completing the projects so far, I am to take one person as a subject and create between five and seven different portraits. These will differ in type and style of portrait.
So far I have used only adults for my projects and practice. For this assignment I chose my friend’s grandson. The brief suggested I take time over this and not attempt to shoot the set in one day. However, he doesn’t live close by and my visits are infrequent, also being a very lively two and a half year old, I had to capture the shots while I could, before he became tired and grumpy! I spent the whole day photographing as and when opportunities arose.
At first I allowed Max time to overcome his shyness and then I had to win his trust. The best approach was to give him undivided attention and make it a game. I gave Max my compact camera to “play with” so he could take some photos too!
Below are all the shots I took before analysis.
“I try to simplify things by just having a white background and no distractions. I don’t care about ‘composition’ or anything like that. I just want the emotion of the person in the picture to come across….” [D Bailey]
Holding this quote in mind helped me to focus on what a portrait is all about and what I was trying to achieve. Difficult to choose just a few images as I like so many of them. Reminded of the course aims, in particular, delivering photographs to order and to a deadline, I made my decision.
I feel this mix of images shows how portraiture can delve below the surface. They move away from the familiar planned head and shoulders “likeness” to enable a deeper reading of my subject.
The top three images are fairly static and although only one was planned and posed for, they could all be from a formal sitting.
Above: My overall favourite shot. Angelic and soft – I smell baby powder! I love the subtle tones and how the background blends in to compliment the subject. The softness of the features contrast with dark eyes to really draw the viewer in. This was shot with the subject in front of a large window to allow the sunlight to catch the hair and face.
In close and quite invasive. This image captures a moment of discontent or maybe exhaustion from running around. The dewy face, wide eyes and open mouth speak volumes. Taken with less available light, the shadows sharpen the features helping to project the mood.
Here I attempted to capture a similar image I found on a scrapbooking website Max was getting tired, so getting him to pose for this shot wasn’t too challenging. A table lamp was used for highlighting and shading.
An activity shot. The concentration on the subject’s face is evident as he figures out how to take a picture, totally engrossed and oblivious to my presence and closeness with the camera.
A bit cheesy, but this was not a planned shot. It’s a gesture he has picked up from watching children’s TV, oh and mimicking Nanny trying to persuade him to have a nap!
A more fluid shot, Max in a happy playful mood. The short depth of field successfully blurs the background but allows a little colour and sunlight to add to the cheeriness of the image.
From this piece of work I have discovered (once again), the importance of lighting. I did use flash for some of the projects and agree that it does flatten out features and takes away any natural effects.
I have learnt how to put my subject at ease by chatting to them and encouraging them to be natural and forget the presence of the camera.
To strengthen my skills, I need to focus on being more strict and disciplining myself when making a final selection to present. I am indecisive by nature, so culling images and choosing just a few was far too time consuming. For the assignment I took around seventy shots of Max, some were easy to discard – out of focus, poor composition, bad lighting etc. For the remainder I was tempted to seek the opinion of others. This is more about my lack of confidence and something I am continually working on.
Overall, I am pleased with my assignment images and now have a far greater understanding of what portraiture is – or more accurately, what it can be.