Portrait Workshop

As seen in my “Alive: Rankin Faces Death and an Introduction into Referencing” blog post:


on Monday 21st October 2013, we were given a small Portrait Workshop task that we had to complete, in our research groups, by Thursday 24th October 2013 at three o’clock. Below are all of the notes that we took on research, along with our final image responses:


“Using this quote as a starting point consider how differently you would approach a portrait brief, depending on who has commissioned it.

Like the last studio workshop this is a collaborative workshop, which requires you to work as a team. Working in groups of 3, you need to make portraits of the same person for two different clients. The clients are the guardian, for which you need to produce work for a feature spread in the guardian magazine and a front book cover for Harper Collins publishing. Prior to taking any photographs do some research on the clients and see how differently they use photographs. The aim is to consider not only how you take a photograph but also how that photograph meets the client’s requirements.

For the purposes of the brief, the person photographed is a ‘whistleblower’, add your own back story to this commission to situate the story and help you decide how you will take the photographs.”



Relevant written information (about publications, types of images they like using) – Holly

The Guardian:

  • Founded in 1821
  • Became daily in 1855
  • CP Scott outlined: “Comment is free, but facts are sacred… The voice of opponents no less than that of friends has a right to be heard.”
  • Alongside the Daily Telegraph and the Times, the Guardian lacked resources
  • In 1997 the Guardian became the first national newspaper to appoint a readers’ editor, producer of the daily Corrections and Clarifications column.
  • In 1994-95 the Guardian began developing online publication
  • The Guardian became the UK’s first full-colour national newspaper
  • In 2011 the Guardian’s ground breaking journalism and innovation were recognised at the Press Awards where it was named Newspaper of the Year for its partnership with WikiLeaks, which produced the leaked US embassy cables – WHISTLEBLOWER EXAMPLE, would be good to look at
  • http://www.theguardian.com/gnm-archive/2002/jun/06/1

Some relatable terms and conditions of sending in an image to The Guardian:

Guardian photo information – May help with steve’s research?:



  • Nearly 200 years old
  • English-language publisher
  • The best quality content right across the spectrum
  • Works including classic authors HG Wells, Agatha Christie, JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis.
  • Includes children’s and young adult books such as Paddington Bear and Dr Seuss, and Michael Morpurgo
  • HarperCollins is at the forefront of creative innovation
  • First trade publisher to digitise its content
  • We publish 60% of our books on environmentally-friendly paper
  • HarperCollins is a modern, creative content company
  • Our goal is to attract, to develop and to retain the finest authors and the very best staff
  • http://www.harpercollins.co.uk/about-harpercollins/Pages/about-us.aspx


Photos they usually use – Steve







Possible image ideas – Lucy

  • Idea for The Guardian photograph – outside the magistrate court around the corner from Ellen Terry and make it look like a paparazzi shot considering the person is meant to be a whistleblower. May have a security issue if shooting outside or around it so may have to work around this.
  • Idea for the HarperCollins photograph – a posed studio shoot to make it look like the whistleblower has done a ‘tell-all-story’ for a book/biography.
  • That way the portraits are clearly very different to suit the different clients
  • Ideally we’d only need to be outside the court and in one of the studios. Can borrow a flashgun for the outside shoot and see what equipment we’d need for the studio on the day.
  • Need to decide who is going to be the model but we can decide on the day. Male model may work better than a female one in relation to the whistleblower? ‘Challenging conventions’ – maybe go from a different, unusual angle?


Points to consider with the Portrait Brief:

  • It is important to create your own voice/vision within the constraints of a brief. – (is this perhaps challenging conventions?)
    • Played to the conventions from what our research indicated
    • To challenge conventions would be to not answer the brief or clients needs
  • Think about the contents/back story of the person and whether you can incorporate that into the portrait
    • Whistleblower definition:
      • One who reveals wrongdoing within an organization to the public or to those in positions of authority
      • http://www.thefreedictionary.com/whistleblower
      • Eg. WikiLeaks Bradley Manning – worked with The Guardian (2010)
      • Eg. Edward Snowden released NSA programs – worked with the Guardian (June 2013)
    • General Whistleblowers:
      • Sometimes seen as selfless martyrs for public interest and organizational accountability
      • Others view them as “traitors” or “defectors,” solely pursuing personal glory and fame
      • Many people do not even consider blowing the whistle, not only because of fear of retaliation, but also because of fear of losing their relationships at work and outside work
      • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whistleblower
  • Consider who your commissioner is and why they may be running the story/what angle
    • The Guardian
      • Simple news/documentary – what’s happening at the moment
      • Telling the story as simplistically as possible
      • Factual
      • Can be quite biased?
    • HarperCollins
      • Biography
      • Opinions/perspective of the whistleblower
      • Longer story – history behind it
  • Consider how the image would be laid out in the magazine/book cover. – (wouldn’t that be best for Steve as you can literally see it through research?)
    • The Guardian
      • Photo near top of an feature article
      • Can be either landscape or portrait as text will be able to fit around it due to columns
      • Looking at research, it should look like a conference meeting/interview layout
    • HarperCollins
      • Portrait due to book orientation
      • Negative space for title to take up
      • Biography – portrait of the individual showing personality traits
      • Stands out so that the viewer notices it on the shelf


Photographs from our Portrait Presentation:

The Guardian: