photography 2

The Brief

The aim to this photography project are to take portraits of another student as well as self portraits, in different styles determined by varying the factors involved in photography.

My proposal

For this project I am going to take 3 portraits of another student in 3 differing styles and one self portrait that I feel most effectively conveys my personality. And I am also going to produce one portrait in the style of another photographer I have come across in my research.

Research

Before I took any portraits, we learned few things like how to stimulate the lighting/composition and overall style of the photographer. We looked at framing like where is the subject in the frame and does the portrait need cropping. We also looked at colour balances and went through it in Photoshop which could affect the mood of my portrait.

In order to progress my project I had to carry some research of different photographers. My theme of this project is portraiture, which are a painting, photograph, sculpture, or other artistic representation of a person, in which the face and its expression is important. The intention is to display the likeness, personality, and even the mood of a person. Photography is all about capturing an image for presentation either in print or (digitally) on screen.

As mentioned I believe that a portrait is a recognisable likeness of an individual. However, that is not sufficient to fully define a portrait as the process requires the agreement of the subject. A portrait is a socially negotiated encounter, though the power frequently is and remains with the photographer.

The first individual whose work I looked at was Richard Avedon (May 15, 1923 – October 1, 2004) was an American born photographer who was capitalized on his early success in fashion photography and expanded into the realm of fine art. In addition to his obviously commercial and fashion work he produced a series of portraits of individuals, both well known and anonymous that were an attempt to achieve his reputation as photographer of worth and merit beyond purely commercial considerations.

Although Avedon first earned his reputation as a fashion photographer, his greatest achievement was his sustained body of work in the genre of photographic portraiture. Avedon’s portraits are an example of how the studio and a plain (white) background provides both absolute control and complete attention to be directed at the individual portrayed. Though using colour for much of his commercial work, the portraits were in invariably black and white. This elimination of colour deals with his subjects and fundamental form, without the distraction and visual problems that occur when dealing with colour. Avedon‘s use of a large format camera producing 10×8 negatives produces a highly detailed print, even when enlarged to a great size with black and white suggesting that each person shown is an archetype. Even if only an archetype of themselves.

Avedon’s photographs confront us with miners, unemployed people, drifters, farmers, cowboys, and convicts, often at life-size or over. There is barely a trace of the theatrical expressiveness or the wasteful gestures that Avedon brings out from the actors, singers or writers who sit for him. Their hard physical labour, the harshness of their everyday lives, their struggle for survival, has fixed their features and their souls. Their faces become landscapes, and their bodies’ territories, on which they carry their clothes around with them.

An important exhibition of Avedon’s portraits was held in 1975 at the Marlborough Gallery in New York which this photograph was taken. This is Avedon’s photograph of Andy Warhol which is also a gelatin silver print; he is fingering the scar on his belly where Valerie Solanis shot him. The famous white wig has been cropped of this photograph. Avedon was always interested in how portraiture captures the personality and soul of its subject. As his reputation as a photographer became widely known, he brought in many famous faces to his studio and photographed them with a large-format 8×10 view camera.

From 1979 to 1984, Avedon made several trips through the western United States visiting locations such as state fairs, factories, slaughterhouses, ranches and roadside. The people he chose to photograph drifters, coal miners, waitresses and factory workers among them were not the brawny cowboys or rosy-cheeked frontier families of Western lore, but everyday people coping with the often-harsh reality of rural life. Avedon photographed his subjects against a white backdrop, eliminating any reference to landscape, long a staple of Western imagery. I like his ability to find the grand in any subject. Such as this portrait of coal miner from his “southwest project”. I hope to someday learn to give my lenses with the clairvoyance of Avedon’s. Avedon’s photographs captured the freedom, excitement and energy of fashion as it entered an area of transformation and popularization. No matter what the prevailing style, his camera eye always found a way to perform its spirit as the fashion world’s creative attention influenced variously from. Avedon would at times provoke reactions from his portrait subjects by guiding them into uncomfortable areas of discussion or asking them psychologically questions. Through this he would produce images revealing aspects of his subject’s character and personality that were not typically captured by others.

Here is the great contralto singer Marian Anderson taken by Avedon. By waiting for the moment when Anderson closed her eyes, Avedon was able to suggest her intense inner concentration on the song and to allow us, the viewer, to focus on her mouth. Even if the viewer knows nothing about Marian Anderson, one can still see in this photograph the total commitment to her voice, that she was the very embodiment of song. And if in fact the viewer is aware of the social context of the photograph; that Anderson fought in a very quiet and effective way to be heard in the 1930s, despite attempts by the Daughters of the American Revolution to prevent her from singing at Washington Hall because of her race, which caused First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt to resign from the organization

What are they most well known for?
Richard Avedon: Most well known for his sustained body of work in the genre of photographic portraiture. Avedon’s portraits are an example of how the studio and a plain (white) background provides both absolute control and complete attention to be directed at the individual portrayed. Though using colour for much of his commercial work, the portraits were in invariably black and white. This elimination of colour deals with his subjects and fundamental form, without the distraction and visual problems that occur when dealing with colour.

Mario Testino: Testino earned his reputation as a fashion photographer. He is a Fashion photographer who is working for several magazines including Vogue and Vanity Fair.

Jane Bown: Most famous for newspaper photography. Bown’s first published photograph, a portrait of Bertrand Russell, appeared in The Observer in January 1949. Her photographs have never gone out of fashion and her influence shines through the paper.
Her style of portraiture has barely changed since then. With her camera set almost permanently at a 60th and 2.8, with no assistants and using only natural light (in bad light she will sometimes use the light from a reading lamp), she has captured the flaws, strengths and humanity in all her subjects. Through the 1950’s her role developed. She was not employed purely for portraiture.

Yousuf Karsh: who first became well known for his images of wartime personalities in the 1940s. Karsh’s photographic portraits have come to represent the public images of major international figures of politics, science, and culture in the twentieth century. The portraits have been displayed in public galleries and circulated widely in magazines.

David Bailey: Well known for his fashion photographers for Vogue magazine. He also did a large amount of freelance work.

Along with Terence Donovan, he captured, and in many ways helped create the Swinging London of the 1960s: a culture of high fashion and celebrity chic. Both photographers socialised with actors, musicians and royalty, and found themselves elevated to celebrity status. Together, they were the first real celebrity photographers.

Planning

At first I decided to produce portraits of a girl with her half face black and white and other side of her face colour and to show different emotion at the same time. But then I developed the idea and decided to take portraits of a toddler. For the girls portrait I took a picture of her in close-up first and then printed it out in black and white; and then I took another picture of her when she was holding the black and white photograph in front of her half face. But after I had done all my 3 portraits like that, i got another idea of taking images of a toddler.

My first portrait of the toddler is taken in a high angle and I decide to make the background black and white and the toddler in colour. I contrasted the colour in Photoshop to make the image look effective and simple. This image had some negative space around which was cropped in Photoshop to make the image appropriate.

For second portrait I decided to make the background in colour and the child in black and white to show different styles. This image first had some negative space which was cropped aswell.

The third portrait was a close-up of the boy and the colour contrast was changed a little bit in Photoshop because the original image was a bit dull.

This is one of my portraits in the style Richard Avedon. I liked the way Avedon’s portraits are an example of how the studio and a plain (white) background provides both absolute control and complete attention to be directed at the individual portrayed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is my last portrait of myself which conveys my personality.

Review
Overall, my photos worked well and went to plan. However, I encountered a few difficulties throughout the project. I just couldn’t decide who should be my model and I had too many ideas which were not good because then I was never happy with my portraits at the end. But now I look at them and I can say I am happy with my portraits.

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