In this exercise, you’ll build on your ‘Background as context’ exercise (ex 1.2) by taking the relationship between your subject and their surroundings a step further. The objective here is to try to create a link between the two components of your image, i.e. the subject and their surroundings.
Make three different portraits using three different subjects. Prior to shooting your portraits, engage with your subjects and agree three different specific locations which have some relevance or significance to them individually … go one step further and negotiate a specific physical location where you’ll photograph your subject. This can either be inside or on location, but the key to this portrait is the interaction you’ve had with your subject in identifying a place that has specific meaning to them.
Each portrait should be accompanied by a very short piece of text explaining the choice of location or venue … Present all three images together as a series and reflect upon how successful this exercise was in your learning log or blog. Write around 500 words.
For this exercise I relied on my family members.
My youngest son, Nick, is a very keen vegetable gardener and plants tomatoes and beans every year. He chose to be photographed relaxing in front of his crops.
My eldest son, Robert is a keen mountain biker, so decided to have his portrait taken in the garden on his bike. Dinner was almost ready otherwise he may have decided to do the photoshoot in the forest.
My husband Nick is so used to being at the other end of my lens but on this day he agreed to being photographed while barbequing. This is something that he does throughout the summer in our back yard, and is quite representative of him.
I think as a whole the series works well together. All the photographs were made outside in natural light. I used a 18mm – 140mm zoom lens, but might have had better results if I had used my 50mm lens. Fig 3 may appear a little darker than the other two images, but I did try and photograph from the house towards the garden, but the background was just too messy, what with vegetable installations, umbrellas and building material. In hindsight I should have remember to use my reflector to bounce a little more light into my husband’s face and I could have stepped back a little more to include a bit more of the barbeque itself.
I was quite pleased with the light in Fig 2. There is enough light coming into the shaded area to allow for muscle definition on my son’s arms. If I had to do this over again, I would have him lose the helmet which is obscuring his leg.
I rather like the slight dappled light on the left arm and body and the Rembrandt lighting on the face in Fig 1. I had to bring the exposure down a bit on the leg that is stretched out in front and also had to clone out a distracting red sprinkler that was among the beans.
I have to admit that doing full length, three-quarter or even half length portraits is rather new to me as I do so much head shot work where I work that it almost feels like a different genre. I do prefer working up close as I feel I’m closer to the personality of that person, even if I am using a zoom lens.
While shooting this exercise I also included close ups of my family which are below.