This exercise asks us to make a portrait each of three different people in a space that is meaningful to them. I decided to make them of my sister-in-law and her two children, who live locally. All of the images were taken at their home.
This is my place and time. It’s when I usually sit and read for a little while with a cup of tea, before I start supper for the family. I can look out of the doors at the garden.
Playing the piano is very calming to me. It separates you from the outside world and you just come and sit down and play. I have been learning for two years now.
Tom (and Tess)
There used to be a big tree here, and I’d swing from the branches. My parents had it chopped down recently without telling me…. I loved that tree.
I arranged with the sitters what would happen a few days in advance, to give them time to think about their meaningful place. Unfortunately, on the day of the shoot, the weather was terrible, and I was unable to get the pictures I wanted of Kate and Tom, Kate because the light was too poor and Tom because he had wanted his picture outside.
These are people I know well, although perhaps I have not had that much direct interaction with the children. Kate was nervous about the process, but Anna and Tom were both quite relaxed about it (maybe a result of the ‘selfie’ craze) and I was able to negotiate to return the following day to complete the shoot.
My first attempt with Kate was at the Aga, but the light was very poor, and it was impossible to get a reasonable aperture/shutter speed without putting up the ISO to a level where it was compromising clarity. Anna’s was easy, as the light was excellent. Tom’s first shoot had the same problems as Kate’s, as we had to shoot inside again. In fact, his original plan was to go for the outside shot, so going back enabled me to produce the image he wanted.
Points to remember:
- The weather is very important, as it affects the available light hugely.
- I need to spend more time checking the area around the person for items that are extraneous. My original shots of Kate and Anna had to be cropped because I left some of my camera equipment in the frame.
- It’s a good idea to take a wireless shutter release, so the subjects don’t know when you are going to make the shot. I engaged them in conversation while I was setting up the camera, and they were reasonably relaxed by the time I took the photograph.
- What I think is a good representation of the person might not be their idea. When I suggested that the above image was a good picture of Kate, she responded that it was my “photographer’s prerogative” to think so, but she did not necessarily agree.
As images, I think they work well and are truthful representations of the people concerned. From the point of view of being a series, I have put them together below for consideration.
The colouring is different in each image, which can be attributed to both the available light and the weather. When seen together, Anna’s portrait appears to advance from the other two, while Kate’s recedes. The lighting is a bit contrasty in Tom’s image, and in retrospect, I should have altered the metering mode to raise the brightness of the shadows.
As a final note, I made A3 copies of the following portraits and gave them to the family. Both Tom and Anna were pleased with them, and said they felt these were reasonable representations of them. I’m rather surprised to find that I enjoyed this exercise and that I can take a portrait photograph of which I can be reasonably proud.