Project 2 - Make 3 portraits of three different people that you think will function as the ultimate surrogate for the person portrayed.
Below is a simple mind map of my ideas.
A portrait is a painting, drawing or photograph of a person usually of only the face, head and shoulders. For this project I decided to make 'neutral' portraits by having the people sit straight on with a neutral expression. I had them sit against a grey background and used soft lighting. Once I had my final images I took them into Lightroom and turned them black and white and brightened the eyes slightly to reveal more detail.
Below are the images with a brief explanation to how they function as the individual's surrogate.
These images engage the viewer emotionally without having any signs because they are drawn straight to the eyes. To me, eyes are fundamentally the most fascinating part of a portrait and human because we use them to communicate different emotions and feelings. The eyes are essentially 'windows' to the inner self and can control who they allow in and who to keep out.
By keeping composition, colours and facial expression neutral, it allows the viewer to make their own decision on what they believe the person is like based on their eyes and project themselves onto the subject in the photograph. This is the reason I stripped back their identities and characters to only reveal a 'neutral' self to the viewer.
These images act as the ultimate surrogate of the subjects because they are Photographs of them which are made to look as close to how they appear in real life as possible.
I found this project interesting and am pleased with the results of my photographs as I like how my they are 'simple' but intriguing by drawing the viewers attention to the eyes of the subjects. I also like the tonality of the images as it creates a more 'neutral' feel to the images, drawing all the focus to the subject's eyes. I looked at Thomas Ruff's mug-shot-like portraits he took of his students which intrigued me to create portraits of subjects with emotionless expressions so that the viewer could 'project' their mood onto the subjects when viewed. I enjoyed using the studio and experimenting with different lighting. I also enjoyed being under pressure in the studio, which forced me to think fast and come up with ideas there and then.
I did come across some problems whilst in the studio such as the time constraint. I found that I didn't have enough time to change the lighting and background for each of the subjects, to create different moods and effects. This time constraint was due to an issue with the lighting rig in the studio and the little amount of time that the studio is free to book out. I would have liked to change lighting positions, backgrounds and light modifiers. In the editing process I would have experimented more with colours and change the background colour depending on the colour of the subject's mood/aura. I think this would have helped me more as I would have had more experience in using different light modifiers and learned new skills in Lightroom and Photoshop.
Artist Research 1
He is a German photographer who lives and works in Dusseldorf, Germany. He is most well-known for his mug-shot like portraiture. The majority of his portraiture work was like this, with plain coloured backgrounds, even soft lighting and full frontal emotionless expressions. These were described as Passport-like photographs and usually were of his students in which he taught. Later on he became interested and started experimenting with composite images where he found a machine in which he could put 4 portraits in and it would combine them into one composite image. He found this fascinating as it mixed facial features from both men and women.
Ruff's work is influenced by Bernd Becher, Stephen Shore and Joel Meyerowitz. Some of his other work consist of:
- Häuser (building portraits i.e. architecture)
- Sterne, Nacht and Zeitungsfotos (images of the Night Sky)
- Nudes (based on Internet Pornography which were digitally obscurred)
- Zycles, Cassini, and ma.r.s. (3D renderings of mathematical spirals)
- Photograms (abstract shapes, lines and spirals)
Below are some of Ruff's famous portraits which link to my project.
These photographs link to my project because the subjects have emotionless expressions and are situated in front of a plain coloured background with even lighting.
These are photographs that represent the people in them as close to they appear in real life. I personally like his work because at face value they seem so simple but yet each one has a deeper meaning. By having his subjects do a blank expression it allows the viewer to create their own interpretation of the person as viewers 'project' their mood onto the subjects when viewed.
Artist Research 2
Arnold Newman is most famous for his portraiture and has become known as the 'Father of Environmental Portraiture'. He was born on March 3rd 1918 in New York City and studied art at the University of Miami. He began his career by working at chain portrait studios in Philadelphia and soon started his own work in abstract and documentary photography. In 1941 Museum of Modern Art (MoMa) and Alfred Stieglitz 'discovered' him and his work and allowed him to put on an exhibit. During this time he began working on experimental portraiture and developed a way that is influential in portrait photography today.
"As for myself, I work the way I do because of the kind of person that I am – my work is an expression of myself. It reflects me, my fascination with people, the physical world around us, and the exciting medium in which I work. I do not claim that my way is the best or the only way, it is simply my way. It is an expression of myself, of the way I think and feel."
- Arnold Newman, A Life in Photography
Below are some of Newman's famous portraits.
I personally like Arnold Newman's work because he uses very unique composition and framing to get completely different feelings and moods in his images. He also uses facial expressions in his portraiture work to convey feelings and emotions. I like that some of his images appear in different styles such as snapshots and photographs.