Holiday Homework 2013 – Task 1 (Portraits)
As I do with all of my briefs, when I first receive it, I read through it and highlight any important information that I’ll need to take forward and complete during the project. Below I have written out the key terms that I thought identified this brief:
“… Make 2 portraits.”
“One portrait must be of a person you know well and one portrait must be of someone you do not know.”
“Have you approached each portrait differently?”
“What is important in the portrait and how are you going to represent this?”
“… Write a 300 word reflection…”
“… Discusses how you approached making/creating the portraits.”
“… Whatever medium…”
“… Present and discuss your portraits to the group.”
For this brief, the first thing I had to decide upon was who my two portraits were going to be of and how I would begin to tackle capturing their essence. I have therefore decided that the portrait of the known person is going to be of my close friends, Lydia Smith.
After discussing the shoot with Lydia, we then decided that I was going to photograph her with her new Miniature Schnauzer puppy called Louie. We agreed on this subject matter as due to the puppy being a new member of the family, she wanted a nice photo of them together and so working with both of them will be beneficial to meet both of our needs. The overall shot that I plan on capturing with Lydia will still be a portrait but will enhance the natural relationship between the two of them.
With the portrait of the stranger, I have also decided upon a plan of action; I intend on going to Camden Town in London to shoot this portrait, as I know from experience that the people there are a lot more confident in their own skin and feel at home within their extravagant dress sense. Here they are not judged.
I can also already tell that I will be approaching these two portraits differently. For me, I feel that the most important aspect of a portrait is the photographer’s ability to capture the personality and relationship of the subject(s) within the one image. This will obviously be one of the changing variables between the two portraits as it will be easier for me to capture Lydia’s personality and relationship.
I have therefore decided that for this task I am going to produce two differently shot portraits in order to emphasize the relationship between the subject and I. For example, with Lydia and Louie’s portrait, I plan on creating a closer, more naturalistic portrait, which will be used to represent the close friendship that we share, along with highlighting the intimacy of her relationship with her new puppy, whereas with the strangers portrait I intend on photographing them in the street that I met them and will most likely be using either a long-shot or a mid-shot (this will enhance the viewers knowledge of the fact that little relationship is shared between us and the length of shot used will represent the distance between us).
Below are examples of some of my favourite shots from these two shoots, followed by the penultimate final images:
Lydia and Louie:
Now that you have clearly seen my favourite and final shots, the next step to completing this task is to critically reflect upon how I approached making/creating the portraits. This critical reflection can be found below.
As stated during my planning stage and through looking at my final two images, the viewer can clearly see that I deliberately changed the way in which I photographed these two portraits in order to highlight the relationship between the subject and myself.
With both of these portraits, I thought of small aspects to include in them in order to give the viewer a slight clue as to my relationship with the subject.
For Lydia and Louie’s “known-person” portrait, the home environment in which I shot her explains to the viewer that I am photographing someone that I know. The close-up style of the portrait emphasizes our friendship by suggesting to the viewer that she is more comfortable with me photographing her and the mixture of naturalistic and posed positions shows that I wanted to enhance the relationship between the two subjects whilst also accommodating both of our needs (as stated in the planning stage). All of these characteristics or enigma codes allows the viewers understanding of our relationship to heighten.
However, with the “not-known” individuals portraits, I tackled the creating of the images differently. The fact that these portraits were shot in the street using a mid/long shot as the chosen camera shot allows the viewer to build a narrative that suggests that we (being the photographer and the subject) are mere strangers who have met not moments ago. Also, as you can see from the majority of the images, the subjects are showing an indirect mode of address, which gives a huge clue to the viewer that we do not know each other. This style of shot can also be seen as similar to that of an indirect snapshot, which suggests that I didn’t engage with the subject and merely photographed them in their element.
Although I did deliberately change the way in which I shot these two portraits, I completely understand that at some point in the future I will have to be able to fake the relationship between the subject and myself in order to achieve the best possible image or to meet the required brief.