Exercise 1.2 Background as Context – Portrait

The brief:

Make a portrait of someone you know, paying very close attention to what is happening in the background of the shot. Be very particular about how you pose the subject and what you choose to include in the photograph. Ideally the background should tell the viewer something about the subject being photographed.


For this portrait I chose to photograph my son, who is a plumber. A plumber’s job is very often performed in narrow, confined spaces and shooting in these spaces are quite challenging as well as there is not a lot of room, or choice of where to stand. In order to get a frontal view of the plumber, I had him pose sitting on the edge of the bath, while working on the toilet cistern. He is very tall so I needed to reduce him in height to fit into my frame. Ideally, I would have preferred to have my flash off camera to obtain a softer shadow, but the overhead lighting was casting the same shadow, so I decided to work with it. The shiny tiles, bar of soap and shampoo bottle provide the background context for the bathroom, while the foreground confirms the location.


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