Portrait Practice

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mike flash_72

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I am excited to have some more portrait work to do over the next few weeks.

These are my first preliminary shots for Mike. Looking back, I quite like the full face look, and I’m intrigued to take more like it. It’s not exactly the most technically demanding or original thing to do, but then again it is very interesting to observe the difference that a shadow, a flash of light, a change of expression can bring. And the story in a persons face always intrigues me, I love to see it there.

It might be interesting to record the other faces in my life in this way.

As I have said before, I just love to work with natural light. Possibly this is because I have done more of it so far, and so this is where I am most comfortable, but I think I will always have a love for it. Every shot I take I learn something new about light!

I will also be taking some photographs for my friends Katie and Paul over the next few weeks, and their lively family of geese, ducks, dogs and cats. I will be attempting to capture them all, which should be a fun challenge!

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My First Portraiture Shoot

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I had a busy time last week taking photographs for my friend and fellow musician Rowan.

Rowan is a fantastic singer and I wanted to try and take some photographs for her that she could use both promotionally and personally.

I have been practising for the past few months using natural light indoors, so that I could work without studio lighting or expensive kit. (I posted about that here.) Rowan was amused to discover that I had been practising for her shoot with figs, gooseberries and teddy bears!

I was aiming with these to capture several different moods, making use of different looks and angles of available light. Here is a selection of each.

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If I was trying to create a series to run together I wouldn’t have experimented so much with different effects, but as these shots will all work for separate situations I felt free to work quite experimentally. With time, I would probably start to work a little more creatively with ideas, but as it was a first try we aimed to keep it fairly simple.

I wanted to enhance Rowan’s natural beauty but not create something unreal, so I have kept editing to a minimum. This was quite a challenge for a first attempt but I am quite pleased with the results and am excited to continue learning.

I have in my possession the most beautiful track of Rowan’s..but I am not allowed to share it yet..! As soon as she has it recorded officially though I will do, as her voice is a beauty to be heard..

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Form

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Experiences over the past few weeks have reminded me that the body is a simply a carrier of the soul, each must be nurtured, without each we are nothing. All that we are can be gone in an instant. Each breath is precious.

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Apart

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Well, the rain has been bucketing down all this week, so I am back working indoors again..

This is a collage of a self portrait taken when I was 18. I went everywhere with my camera then, and vividly remember taking the original picture to this, on black and white film, in a park, on a timer, balanced on something..

I found this image quite interesting to work with, for many reasons.

At first I started with the original black and white photograph, hung it on a wall, and photographed it at night with a yellow electric light, creating a slightly blurred and coloured effect:

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I wasn’t sure if I liked the blur at first, but I warmed to it. I think that it adds to the feeling of age and distance that I was hoping for, and I like that the blur is mainly contained to the back..

To me, this image, alone, the subject staring into nothing, has a totally different impact to the final work. The expression to me seems very lonely, inward, and somehow more bleak..maybe this is just my personal reaction as it is a photograph of myself, so it’s hard to separate enough to view it without my attached memories and emotions.

The stretched ear somehow becomes more apparent to me in this singular image, almost as a central focal point, although I am also drawn to the eyes..

I decided to arrange this image to work as two facing ones, and so blended them together, keeping a hint of the separation in the centre, with a sharp open line.

(Click to enlarge)

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 I find it really interesting how much the energy in the picture changes when the images are facing each other. Viewed together, I find that the expression becomes somehow defiant, assertive..though there is a sense of kindness too..are these two faces fighting each other or supporting each other? Are they identical? Do they have separate characters? Do they hold onto each other or are they pulling apart? Sometimes I see one as more dominant than the other. I have lots of questions, and my answers keep changing.

Having a point of focus, you can see the expression somehow more as something directed outwards, it more easily seems to reflect the subjects outlook on the world, there is a new tension there, it seems a less inward gaze..although having identical images also isolates..they are wrapped up in themselves. Another image also appears in the centre to me..can you see it too?

As I said, I feel differently about these every time I look at them. Writing now, the two figures represent to me the feeling of two inner worlds and conflicts –  of somehow separating from yourself and becoming something else, and how different that feels, and yet still being one body..To me there is also a sense of disconnection to the world, of holding on, of self reliance, somehow revealed in these blank expressions..or maybe these are just my emotional and personal responses..?

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