We've spent a bit of time chatting about portraits.
One of the the points I made is the importance of introducing some variety into the 'pace' of images. That's to say it's very easy, particularly in an exhibition or a book, to have a series of portraits which are so similar in style they can render the viewer comatose.
Not that I'm being critical but the effect is easy to see when, for example, you look at a series of Richard Waldendorp's pictures. He's a magnificent arial photographer - definitely not a portrait photographer. Take any one of his pictures and view it in isolation and it is brilliant. But look at a series of them in a book or an exhibition and the senses become quite dulled. His graphic vision is excellent but his sense of light is not and his work would be improved a great deal if he were to shoot ariels at different times of day to bring out texture in the landscape. Most of the shots depend entirely on graphic effect and a single overhead light - the sun.
The same argument applies to Richard Avedon's iconic essay "In the American West". Avedon was one of the world's greatest photographers and his series of portraits has become a landmark and an inspiration. However, the same repetitive effect can apply. All of the pictures were taken against a white backdrop on the shaded side of buildings, thus providing a huge softbox effect from the open sky. The incredible variety of characters held the work together.
Both photographers have achieved inspiring bodies of work but the effect of similarity in approach to their images can lead to a 'seen one, seem them all effect'.
This was my reason for caution when looking at your early portraits on the current project. I'm not being critical there - the motivation behind this is perfectly valid. I'm thinking down the track and visualising how the similarity in style may have a negative effect.
I mentioned that it may be an idea to break up the exhibition, to add a touch of visual relief, by taking not only a close up head shot but also to look for other characteristics which make up a persons character - hands, feet maybe. Or to take them in a non studio environment such as the one in the ruined building on this blog. I made a comment about that and I think that's an image and style which can be fine tuned very easily.
I've just managed to get m own daylight studio set up after clearing truckloads of rubbish out and the lighting as low but very nice quality. I've only done a few tests on a digital camera this far and am happy with what I'm getting. The lighting needs a little bit of work but it's fine - it just needs variety which I'm achieving by the use of reflectors.
I've posted some shots below. A couple of you to illustrate how the environmental effect can be put to good use. I like the tight shot but I prefer the wider one of you sitting and having a tea break. If I were to write a caption to this I 'd keep in mind your background of professional fishing. The mural goes some way towards helping that along.
|Dewi Hyde, Esperence, 2011 Roger Garwood|
|Dewi Hyde, Esperence, 2011 Roger Garwood|
|Narayani, Fremantle, 2011 Roger Garwood|
|Naraynai, Fremantle, 2011 Roger Garwood|
|Richard Read, Art Historian, UWA. 2011 Roger Garwood|
This was shot in the same lighting from a slightly different angle. I kept the session a bit loose, not actually posing anything but letting Richard carry on chatting and responding to a friend who was also in the studio. He's an animated sort of character and I feel that approach paid off.
|Richard Read, 2011 Roger Garwood|
When we'd finished shooting I made a cup of tea. We all carried on chatting and I felt the picture which most epitomised Richard was this one.
An interesting thing about this posting is that the images all look different from those on my desktop in terms of contrast and skin tones. They are tending to be a touch darker and flatter and this has to be yet another lesson to be learnt from this technology. That's to say an allowance for the posting has to be made when scanning and correcting images.
By the way, the backdrop is an old canvas cover from a railway truck. I cut it into two parts, one of which is hung on the studio wall, the other is rolled up and portable for chucking into the back of the car.
It works pretty well in colour as well. Here's my very first shot in the studio. It's a bunch of bananas from the garden which have been drying out all summer. It works well in B&W too and I'm going to work on a series of still life pics this winter.
|Dried Bananas. 2011 Roger Garwood|