For a long time I have been fascinated by portraiture in photography. This fascination mainly derives from my own limitations; I’m not good at asking people to allow me to make a picture of them, and I’m sure I’m not good at setting my subjects at ease (which probably stems from my own concerns). Nonetheless I’ve challenged myself to take more pinhole portraits, and here are some results.
Firstly, I should acknowledge that A has appeared in more pictures that I’ve made than anyone. She suffers for my art (or my attempts at art) and for that I am truly grateful. Fortunately A likes a stone circle so this picture of her in the mist in Scotland was pretty simple to make.
I also made a number of images in Amsterdam during our WPPD photowalk. I meticulously planned these shots in advance, working out the angle of view of my Zero to ensure I was at the right distance…I wasn’t! So apologies to Lorraine (above) and Inge and Moni (below) for photographically scalping them. Hopefully the experience wasn’t too painful and when we next meet I will do a much better job.
The results of my attempts in Amsterdam did at least help me learn a few things (apart from stepping back a little). Firstly, background matters. I kinda of knew that from marvelling at the incredible work of Niall McDiarmid whose Crossing Paths project is a lesson to anyone that its not just about the person but also about the place, thanks to Niall I’ve got a much better appreciation of that.
Amsterdam also taught me the importance of trying to blend movement with static. For the Amsterdam shots I had a static background with the subjects moving (intentionally or not, it doesn’t really matter). I also wanted to see what could happen if the subjects remained relatively stationary. I found that with a static background you get what is almost a relatively straightforward portrait (with unintended echoes of a well-known UK pop act), but the pinhole still adds it’s special something to the image.
However, when the background moves you can get a result that (at least in my eyes) is almost magical. I love the image below of Jon and Gav. This (and the shot above) were part of a series of shots made for online store NoKipple, and as an aside I also made some lens-based images for them, samples of which you can find on my portfolio site.
I included the context “Not as simple as you’d think” to the title of this post to reflect the beginnings of my own journey into portraiture. The technical aspects, which I am beginning to get a handle on, are just a drop in the ocean compared to the huge education I still have to give myself in interacting with my subjects (or should I call them sitters, friends…I don’t know but I guess I’ll figure that out as well). Its an education I shall be embarking on with gusto so you can expect more portraits at some point in the future.