Generally, I feel most portraiture photography, even so called candid portraits, are very formularised, they say very little about the subject and often don't provide images that actually capture the real essence of the subject.
Many years ago I decided that for a portrait to be a success it needed to be something that your family could look at and feel it captured the persons character, emotion and of course likeness. Most portraits don’t, they are simply images where the subject sits in front of a standard background smiling in a formulaic way and for all intents and purposes looking just like a thousand other portraits. Lighting and posing may make the subject look important or perfect but often says little about the subject.
The real portraits, the ones that make your family glow inside, the ones that have lasting value are those that show people doing things that are part of their being, in locations that truly mean something to them. This is a challenge but not impossible.
So to me a real portrait is:
- Not usually made inside a studio - but in some instances may be
- Is not made using the cold hard light of flash
- Does not pose the subject to suits some formularised norm
- Is not made in clothes they would never wear or doing things totally out of character
A Real Portrait is made:
- With the subject involved in the activities of their life
- Using lighting which looks natural and plausible but compliments the subject
- Dressed in a way people normally see and know them
- Posed in a way that looks and feels natural for them.
Think of the possibilities:
- Dad in his Workshop
- Mum in the Garden
- A Teenager with his Favourite Possession, perhaps their car or musical instrument
- A Grandparent Reading the paper or perhaps knitting
Does this sound like snaps, well it could be, but it is much more than that, it is the craft of making the image look natural and timeless but still maintaining the core values of great lighting, composition and colour. In essence it sounds easy but in reality its quite difficult, but it is the only style I am interested in creating.
These portraits of course need to be edited to a very high level and then printed on fine art media that is archival, this can be either textured matt papers or canvas. And speaking of canvas, perhaps you may like to go for the full effect and have the image edited to give a paint type effect.
Creating these images requires lots of consultation and planning and of course subject co-operation but I feel the end result justifies the process. This is not the portraiture of bulk numbers or small prints for wallets it is certainly not about creating the sterotypical glamour look or the cardboard cut out. It is portraiture for defining the life of your loved ones for making a statement, “this is who I really am”, for creating images that in times to come will be seen as personality defining by the rest of the family.
If this sounds like your idea of a portrait, please contact me.
I don't photograph children under 4 years old, not because I don’t like kids, I adore my grandson, but simply because I find it nearly impossible to capture quality images reliably from young children. There are many good photographers who cater to this market and bearing in mind how quickly young children change my approach is probably not the most practical.