‘The objective [of this exercise] is to try to create a link between the two components of your image, i.e. the subject and their surroundings.’ I found the wording for the requirements of this exercise a little confusing; was it 3 different portraits of 3 different individuals in different locations (making 9 portraits in total), or 3 portraits of 3 individuals, each in a different location (making 3 portraits in total)? In the end, for the purpose of the exercise, I used two different individuals in 3 different locations each (making a total of 6 portraits).
A has a dislike of being photographed. Three main context in which she expresses her identity are through social events (for example eating out with friends), horse riding, and her work as a businesswoman.
In image 1, I took her aside from the group in the restaurant and photographed her sitting alone. While the context shown is a restaurant, it does not feature the social context (the other people). In retrospect, this could have been more successful showing A as part of a group in a restaurant, but with the camera focused on her.
For image 2, I opted for a photograph showing movement with and on the horse, rather than a static photo of horse and rider. This speaks to the exhilaration of horse riding as a sporting activity, rather than the love of horses, which I feel would have been the reading of a static portrait.
For image 3, I opted for a corporate-style headshot. It is the style of the image that provides the context (a non-space). In retrospect, the gaze should have been different for this type of image; perhaps looking into the camera with authority would have achieved a better effect.
Coherence within the series is assisted by a similar post-processing treatment as well as the subject being the same person throughout.
Subject B does not mind being photographed and is interested in the photographic process. Locations that are important for him are the kitchen (both for eating and enjoyment of cooking), the games room (for X-box), and the football area.
The series was taken after series 1 and I had a chance to put into practice a few lessons learned. I’d been using a wide angle lens (35mm equivalent) to capture the context within the images but had not taken full advantage of the optical qualities of the focal length by including a foreground element close to the lens. I’d just read a book by Jane Bown on portraiture (review in separate post) and was inspired to focus simply on the quality of available light and capturing images with a minimum of fuss (important for a young subject, or an important time-constrained subject alike).
I believe the series featuring subject B is more success than that of subject A. This is partly because subject B was more cooperative and willing to engage in the process, and partly because I don’t yet have the experience to photograph reluctant subjects well. That makes it important to me to return to photograph subject A and attempt to make an improved portrait and develop a strategy for dealing with reluctant sitters!