James Tye

My tutor has requested me to analyse James Tye’s boxer series in relation to my portraits in Assignment 1. I have responded to her specific questions:

Tye’s framing could be incorporated into your own portraits. Look also, at the facial expressions if his subjects. What do you notice? Do analyse his work in relation to your own. [Tutor feedback, Assignment 1]

I found James Tye’s Bantam Weight boxers, photographed after pro fights series on his website. What immediately strikes me is that in the first four photos the boxers are not engaged with the camera/photographer at all. They are looking past it. They look utterly exhausted. The photographs were made studio style with photographic paper background and using overhead lighting (butterfly, judging from the shadows under the nose and the catch-lights in the eyes of the boxer who is looking upwards), whereas my photos were made on location without the benefit of softboxes and studio lighting.

Photos by James Tye
Photos by James Tye

Tye also shot these photos three-quarter length and the subjects are centrally framed, whereas mine are head & shoulder shots. But Tye also has a couple of headshots of the boxers included in this series, where again they are shot against a studio backdrop with butterfly lighting, one very closely cropped headshot where the top of the boxer’s head and bottom of his chin are chopped off, juxtaposed to a photo of a boxer – head and shoulders – standing slightly turned left towards the camera. In these last four images the boxers look very directly at the camera, pulling the viewer in in a rather confrontational stare. All photos are cropped square.

Photos by James Tye
Photos by James Tye

Tye’s portraits do not reveal anything about his subjects’ personalities instead having a ‘neutrality and totality of vision’ (Bull 2010: 142). Their ‘blank expressions and lack of visual triggers, such as gesture, confound our expectations of discovering a person’s character through their appearance’ (Cotton 2011:106).

Reference List

Bull, Stephen (2010). Photography. New York: Routledge.

Cotton, Charlotte (2011). The Photograph as Contemporary Art. London: Thames and Hudson.

Tye, James (n.d.) Bantam Weight boxers, photographed after pro fights series [online]. Available at: http://jamestye.com/stories/a39ze5stt59xp8j0h40p0y9pw8nl37 [Accessed 31 July, 2016]

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4 thoughts on “James Tye”

  1. I’m just thinking along the lines of all the comments made regarding every portrait is a portrait of the photographer and I’m wondering what that means about the personality of the photographer and alter egos.

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  2. The first two images here remind me very much of Rineka Dijkstra’s series on bull fighters and new mothers, in the way they are isolated against neutral backgrounds and have recently emerged from a very physical ordeal. Interesting reading, thank you.

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