Summer Work – Portraits – Task 1

Holiday Summer Homework level 1-2
Task 1
Building on this terms brief and in preparation for next terms classes you need to make 2 portraits. You can interpret this as broad as you like, but there are 2 stipulations. One portrait must be of a person you know well and one portrait must be of someone you do not know.
Consider how you will approach this brief. Have you approached each portrait differently? What is important in the portrait and how are you going to represent this?
Someone I know:
Elli (1 of 1)-8_pp
A stranger:
Tramdriver (1 of 1)
When given this brief I knew immediately that I wanted to choose one of my children to be the subject for the portrait of someone close to me. I am the person closest to them and know them most intimately so there I am able to capture them in unguarded moments without any self conciousness. They feel at ease with me which allows me to capture their true selves.
My first ideas were to capture my two eldest during their preparations for their respective school leaving proms. Although I produced some nice images I felt that most of them had too much of a record feel about them. They were capturing the moment in almost a family album kind of a way. The forced smiles and rigid posing didn’t really create the look that I was after.
Above are some examples of the images that I took for Thomas’ prom. For me, the images that work best in the series are the off guard moments. The 3 bottom images capture his personality far more than the first 2, which for me have a wedding photo feel to them. Not that there is anything wrong with them, just that they don’t fit what I am trying to achieve.
So I set about using the summer to capture images of the children and to create an natural image that was unposed and free.  I feel that my choice of final image reflects this nicely. It was captured at a family gathering whilst sitting in a conservatory. The natural light was lovely and whilst chatting with the family I snapped Elliot almost unawares. He did not have time to force a smile or run! It was very much a case of capture it whilst you can! For me , this is the main reason the image works. I did not tell him how to pose or how to react to the camera, he just did his own thing. The resulting image has a wonderful intensity about it, I don’t think I could have achieved the eye contact that he maintains with the camera had I staged the image.  The natural light was streaming in through the window, and although it was bright, the sun was not so intense as to burn out the detail of the image, his freckles have remained a prominent feature of the photograph.
Taking a photograph of a stranger proved to be more challenging. At first I was unsure as to how to approach this task. There is always an element of risk that people will not take kindly to being photographed in the street and I admire photographers who are accomplished in street photography as it requires a lot a courage and a certain amount of fearlessness running the risk that someone might want to punch you on the nose! Bearing this in mind I decided to take photographs of strangers at events that I attended over the summer. These people would be used to being photographed and some would even relish in being in front of the camera.
I attended a battle re-enactment by the Vikings of Middle England, a Leicester based living history group, at Rockingham Castle in Northamptonshire. I managed to get some great shots of the day but didn’t really find that any stood out to me as a portrait as such, they were more of a reportage style of image:
My final choice of image of a stranger was shot at the Black Country Museum. I didn’t plan the shot , and think it works well for that reason. He isn’t posing and the shot looks natural and unforced although there is an air of restraint about it. I also like the contrast between this image and the portrait of Elliot, the young and old. The fact that Elliot is engaging directly with the lens and the stranger is not so sure and appears to be self conscious about looking directly towards the camera.  The use of colour and Black and white enhances the contrast between the two.

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