Portrait: Research

The idea behind my shoot was to create something editorial, I wanted to use post production to make something artistic. I also wanted my photographs to have a meaning behind them, a message that can be conveyed through an image. A simple Google search bought me to a variety of ideas I could imitate. Seeing a few clever ideas, I found one that really stood out and would be realistic to achieve via post production

However, I didn’t want to copy it exactly the same so I thought about how I could make it have a meaning. I took the feature of colouring the eyes, but removed the paint brush and instead chose to create a frame with the subject’s hands.
I wanted to convey the meaning along the lines of “creativity is in the eyes of the beholder” and the importance of our vision. How we see the world through our own eyes and the colours and details we can appreciate. The fingers creating a box represents the window we see through or can be interpreted as a reference to photography, creating the frame of an image.

I wanted to do my research on portrait photographers who utilised a lot of black and white. My images where to be prominently black and white, with a bit of colour added. So I wanted some inspiration on how to capture good shades of grey, composition and backgrounds.

The first photographer I studied was Robert Mapplethorpe (http://www.mapplethorpe.org/). Robert was born in 1946, Queens USA. In 1970 he obtained a polaroid camera where he began producing his own photographs. Throughout the 70’s & 80’s Robert produced images that challenged the style of photography at the time, taking pictures of male and female nudes, still flowers and studio portraits of artists and celebrities. In 1986 Robert was diagnosed with AIDS, yet continued to broaden his creative photographic efforts, before his death in 1989.
Roberts portrait work is very simplistic yet effective with an old film look to them. The black and white is very dominant with strong shades at both ends of the spectrum. I took inspiration from his use of lighting to give his models a glow, they stand out from the background as their skin lights up. He was also very good at capturing the expression and character of each subject, taking the photograph of his subjects in different environments, moods and actions to get the true sense of that person’s behaviour.

I then did some research on Brian Ingram (http://www.brianingramphoto.com/). Brian is a more modern portrait photographer who’s work has appeared in various magazines such as Vogue Italia and Digital Photographer Magazine. His style is similar yet completely opposite to Robert Mapplethorpe’s, he also uses a lot of black and white but shoots on a digital format. He therefore utilises post production to give his images something extra.
Brian’s work is very powerful, being the main influence behind my photographs. He gets up close to his subject, capturing every detail but the recurring theme through his work is the eyes always stand out. I really like the gritty, grainy texture his photographs have they feel very real and harsh, he makes use of his lighting very well. His subjects are quite serious in terms of expression which works well accompanied by the black and white tone.

I took inspiration from both photographers to create my pieces of work, utilising techniques both of them use in their photography. My research gave me a good idea into what type of Black and White I wan’t to create as well as giving me an insight into various compositions, expressions and characteristics to try and capture.

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