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!
I also have some general “snaps” of Max taken with an iPhone. Whilst the quality is not perfect, it demonstrates how one can capture character just as easily without the need for a formal portrait shoot.
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….” 
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, being decisive, I narrowed down my candidates.
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 through action and facial expression.
The three images below 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. Captured during one of those “deep in thought” moments. Angelic, 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 allowing 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 quickly with less available light, but the shadows sharpen the features helping to project the mood.
Here I attempted something a little different, a pose usually reserved for baby portraits. I wanted to try to reproduce an image I found on a scrapbooking website. Max was getting tired, so getting him to pose for this shot wasn’t too challenging. The late afternoon sun was helpful here, the addition of a table lamp created highlighting and shading.
Below: An activity shot. The concentration on the subject’s face is evident as he attempts to figure out how to use the camera. Totally engrossed and oblivious to my presence and closeness with my camera.
Below: 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!
Below: 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.
I will do a little post processing in Lightroom before submitting my final selection.
- Bailey, D. (2014). Bailey exposed. National Portrait Gallery. London