Portraiture typology

I have not achieved very much coursework over the last few weeks, and this is largely down to my inability to face up to asking people (both strangers and friends/family) if I can photograph them in a formal typological way. While I am very drawn to the idea of typologies and thoroughly enjoy looking at them, I seem to find it hard to do myself. I’d very much prefer to do a typological study of some sort of animal or inanimate object, or some street photography where people are unaware of me..

However, this morning, I faced up to the issue and popped round to the local allotments. The plan was to a) check up on my own allotment (the hook to get me there) and b) engage some other allotmenteers in conversation, before asking to take their photos. In the event, it all worked out quite well and I had an enjoyable morning chatting to various people who I had never met before, before asking them if I could take their picture.The images are shown below.

Right from the beginning there was going to be a problem, as it was a very sunny day, and even at 10am, I knew contrast would be a issue. It was. However, I did my best in the circumstances. There were also a number of other considerations, which I realised after the event, but which I will have to bear in mind on any other similar shoot.

  1. I realise that the subjects are shown in different parts of the frame, and that for a typological study, they should all be in roughly the same position. All of the images have been cropped to some extent, so it will be worth going back and trying to get them all to line up, at a similar size within the frame.
  2. I am happy that each is shown in their own allotment, which provides the thread that holds the series together, while showing the individual personalities through their surroundings.
  3. Foolishly, I forgot to ask during our conversations, what the names of the subjects are, and only know that No 1 is called Molly and is a member of the Gardening Society. I have learned quite a bit about each of the subjects, who have all been trying to keep their patch of land under control while dealing with various family crises, and they all said they loved coming there as it was a little haven from their caring responsibilities.
  4. I learned that people are often willing to have their photo taken if one engages them in conversation first, and they are talking about something they love.
  5. For something like this, one often does not have a great deal of control over what is in the image, particularly if, like me, one is trying to be quick in order to keep the subject’s attention. I only took two shots for each subject, and I see now that one could do more with the composition to improve the setting, such as arranging the shot to exclude fence posts, cars, etc.

With these thoughts in mind, I re-edited the images to make them as similar as possible, and these are shown below.

I had been putting off this exercise because of my disinclination to engage strangers in conversation, but it was worth doing, both as an interesting way to meet new people, but also from a purely technical point of view. Typological photography is harder than it looks and requires considerable pre-planning if one wants to achieve the correct results.

6 thoughts on “Portraiture typology

  1. Catherine

    Well – that wasn’t so bad then! Regarding typologies and similar positioning. that got me thinking. Everyone is a different size and height, so do you position them by the feet, head or something else?


  2. Pingback: Assignment 1 – The Non-familiar | Holly's OCA I&P Blog

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